The United States and China have agreed not to "conduct or knowingly support" cyber-theft of intellectual property or commercial trade secrets, the presidents of both countries announced Friday in an address at the White House Rose Garden.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose arrival in the U.S. this week marked his first-ever visit as president, jointly led the press conference with Obama. Despite mounting reports of cyberattacks on U.S. entities being linked to China, the nation has repeatedly denied involvement in such hacks.
"I raised, once again, our very serious concerns about growing cyber threats," Obama said of his discussions with Xi. "I indicated that it has to stop."
The agreement didn't go as far as some had hoped. Obama stopped short of calling the conclusion a true cease-fire, characterizing the talks instead as a "common understanding on the way forward."
In addition to the agreement to stop theft of trade secrets, China and the U.S. will also create two related working groups: one panel of experts who will hold "further discussions" on the cyber topic," and "a high-level" group focused on how to fight cyber crime, the White House said in a statement that provided more details. That high-level group will meet once by the end of 2015 and twice a year after that.
"We have, I think, made significant progress in agreeing to how our law enforcement and investigators are going to work together," Obama said during a question-and-answer session after the address.
Overall, Obama said, "we have jointly affirmed the principle that governments don’t engage in cyber espionage for financial gain against companies."
The countries will work "together and with other nations, to promote other rules of the road," Obama said during his prepared remarks. "It's progress ... but I have to insist that our work is not yet done."
Xi had said during a speech in Seattle on Tuesday that his country and the U.S. could work together to address cyber conflicts, even as the nation continues to deny involvement in those conflicts. Earlier this month, Beijing denounced U.S. claims of cyber-espionage as "groundless accusations."
In July, NBC News obtained a NSA map that shows the Chinese government's massive cyber assault on all sectors of the U.S economy -- including major firms like Google and Lockheed Martin -- and the U.S. government and military. And just this week, two cybersecurity firms released a report saying a Chinese military unit is behind the long-tracked "Naikon" hacking collective.