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Corker, Cardin Seek Answers From Chinese President

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, flanked from left by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Mazie Hirono pose for photographers before their meeting Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

China's President Xi Jinping on Friday tried to assuage concerns from the two top Senate Foreign Relations Committee members over cyberthreats and actions in the South China Sea.  

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CQ Roll Call that Xi, in a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, responded to Corker’s concerns by saying “the kinds of things you expect to be said,” on “these types of trips."  

"So, we’ll see,” Corker said. "We look at them as an economic opportunity, and they look at us as an economic opportunity,” Corker said. “But we see those kind of things — the intellectual property theft of our private companies, national security law, South China Sea — and we just want to know what your vision of our relationship is."  

Ranking member Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., also said in a statement that he had concerns over cybersecurity and the theft of intellectual property rights and the "provocative" actions in the South China Sea, adding “The U.S.-China relationship is an important and complex one, and I hope it continues to flourish."  

"Our relationship will only strengthen if China creates space allowing civil society groups and individuals to speak out freely without recrimination," Cardin said, adding that he provided the Chinese delegation "a list of disturbing individual cases of arrested Chinese lawyers, activists and journalists for further review and consideration."

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