WASHINGTON - US Vice President Joe Biden called Wednesday on China to end its "outright theft" through hacking as he opened two days of annual talks between the world's two largest economies.
"We both will benefit from an open, secure, reliable Internet. Outright cyber-enabling theft that US companies are experiencing now must be viewed as out of bounds and needs to stop," Biden said.
The United States accuses China of waging a vast hacking campaign against its government and companies, with a recent study saying that the theft of trade secrets was costing corporate America hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Beijing has hit back that it too is a victim of hacking, charges that gained ammunition when US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden said that US spies had broken into the Asian power's Internet routing network.
Biden voiced hope that the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue would build trust between the United States and China, saying: "Our relationship is and will continue to be a mix of competition and cooperation."
Taking on another hot-button issue, Biden said that respect for human rights in the long-run "is a source of national and international stability."
"I believe that China, presumptuous of me but, will be stronger and more stable and more innovative if it represents and respects the international human rights norms. But there are differences we have," he said.
The talks involve senior officials from both sides including US Secretary of State John Kerry, whose attendance had been in doubt after his wife was hospitalized with seizure-like symptoms.