Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew called the development a significant breakthrough. It represents “the first time China has agreed to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty, to include all sectors and stages of investment, with another country,” he said in a statement.
The treaty talks were announced at the close of a two-day meeting here of high-ranking Chinese and American diplomatic, security and economic officials, part of an annual “strategic and economic dialogue” between the world’s two largest economies.
But concerns over espionage and theft using the Internet have complicated the economic discussions, with diplomats working on those issues this week. Protections against cyberspying would presumably have to be part of any investment treaty, and could be a major sticking point.
The United States has repeatedly warned that the theft of American companies’ intellectual property, often over computer networks, could make businesses hesitant to invest. And the United States has blocked some Chinese investments, fearing that they could facilitate electronic espionage.
“The reality is clear: The technological ties that bind us together also introduce a new challenge to our bilateral relationship,” said William J. Burns, the deputy secretary of state. Mr. Burns has stepped in for Secretary of State John Kerry — whose wife has been ill — at the negotiations this week.
The Chinese have responded to the American complaints with barbed comments of their own. In particular, they have pointed to the revelations of Edward J. Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency who last month leaked details on the United States’ sweeping surveillance of foreigners and Americans.
Click headline to read more--