U.S. and China find some rare common ground

BEIJING -- The U.S.-China relationship is, by all objective measures, the most important economic and military dynamic in the world. It has many contours and no end of conflicts, but as CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports, both sides have managed to find some common ground at the APEC economic summit in China.

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping mingled at the summit before a lengthy private meeting, defined largely by a tone of economic and military competition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded the attention of both by sending more tanks and artillery to separatists in eastern Ukraine, prompting three unscheduled Obama-Putin encounters lasting a total of 20 minutes on the summit sidelines.

"President Putin knows full well where we stand and we've made that clear not just through words, but our policies; sanctions and that'll continue to be our approach here," said Mr. Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

The two leaders also discussed Syrian and Iran.

As China flexes its muscles, its neighbors look to the U.S.


Flash Points: What are the stakes for Obama's trip to Asia?

When it comes to China, Mr. Obama came to Beijing with some demands of his own, telling Beijing it must curb cyber attacks in the U.S., reduce greenhouse gases and stop using a beefed-up navy to intimidate neighbors in the South China Sea.

China doesn't want to give ground on Mr. Obama's grievances, but is willing to cut economic deals.

Mr. Obama announced that the U.S. and China reached a trade agreement to eliminate tariffs on hi-tech products. The agreement covers devices like semi-conductors, MRI machines and video game consoles which previously carried import taxes as high as 30 percent.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman briefed reporters on the deal, which experts say could eventually create as many as 60,000 American jobs and be worth billions to the U.S. economy.

"It obviously benefits both the producers who can sell more of their product but also the consumers that will see access to products more easily," Froman said.

Mr. Obama also took the time to praise China's work fighting Ebola in West Africa, its investments in the fledgling government of Afghanistan, and support of a deal to de-nuclearize Iran.

But the moment that really caught the eyes of China -- and then the Chinese censors -- saw Vladmir Putin front and center. The Russian President put his coat on China's first lady; an act of apparent gallantry.

Buzz over the brief video clip lit up Chinese social media forums before government censors, eager to keep the focus on President Xi and the economic summit, scrubbed the video and silenced the debate.