The White House may activate targeted sanctions against companies and individuals in China as part of a comprehensive response against Beijing’s cyberattacks on U.S. industry.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that sanctions may come to fruition in the next couple of weeks, according to several unnamed Obama administration officials.
China is known for having an incredibly formidable cyber program, which perhaps ranks on-par with Russia’s sophisticated cyber apparatus. The Chinese government has been deemed responsible for continuous hack attacks against U.S. government agencies in the past months. Recently, the White House placed blame on China for hacking the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The hack may have compromised the records of over 4 million government employees, U.S. officials said.
A senior White House official would not specifically confirm that the U.S. will be sanctioning China. The official told the Washington Post:
As the President said when signing the executive order enabling the use of economic sanctions against malicious cyber actors, the administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront such actors. That strategy includes diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, law enforcement mechanisms, and imposing sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in certain significant, malicious cyber-enabled activities. The administration has taken and continues to introduce steps to protect our networks and our citizens in cyberspace, and we are assessing all of our options to respond to these threats in a manner and timeframe of our choosing.
In response to the Washington Post report, a senior administration official told Reuters regarding the President’s cyber strategy: “That strategy includes diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, law enforcement mechanisms, and imposing sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in certain significant, malicious cyber-related activities.”
“We are assessing all of our options to respond to these threats in a matter and time frame of our choosing,” the official concluded.
Pressure continues to build for Mr. Obama to formulate a comprehensive response. He is slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month, who will come for the first time during his presidency.