Washington has threatened Beijing with economic sanctions over alleged hack attacks against American business entities.
The threats were made just ahead of the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s US tour.
Obama hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for his first U.S. state visit on Friday but behind the pomp and pageantry there were tensions over alleged Chinese cyber spying
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Xi is touring the US ahead of negotiations with Obama, meeting senior business figures and securing huge deals, but the US administration has an agenda of its own and does not limit itself with formal ceremonies.
The recent cyber scandal at the Office of Personnel Management, already dubbed the biggest government hack in US history, when the agency admitted the hackers gained access to 5.6 million fingerprint records, has pushed the US administration to decisive steps.
“This is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved,” President Obama said.
Obama’s press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday presidential office is considering economic sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities claiming they profited from the results of the hacks made in the US networks.
“I will just say that we have made clear our concerns about China’s activity in cyberspace,” the Guardian cited Earnest as saying. “There are a range of tools that are at the president’s disposal to respond to those concerns. We do believe that having those tools on the table, including possible financial sanctions, have been effective as a deterrent and in advancing our interest in that regard.”
And in case anyone doubts America’s hacking capabilities, President Obama said that “Although the Chinese and Russians are close, we’re still the best at this,” adding that if the US goes on the offense, “a whole bunch of countries would have some significant problems.”
Punishing alleged international cybercrime with economic sanctions is a newsflash and the White House might become a pioneer in that undertaking. China has consistently denied all cybercrime allegations.