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US to slap Chinese ‘cyber-plunderers’ with economic sanctions

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The US is to impose economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals they believe to have profited from cyber espionage against America, reports the Washington Post. The sanctions may come shortly after China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit next month.

The sanctions are reportedly being prepared under an authority issued by President Barack Obama in an April executive order that allows asset freeze and block of trade interactions with perpetrators of cyber espionage.

“It sends a signal to Beijing that the administration is going to start fighting back on economic espionage, and it sends a signal to the private sector that we’re on your team. It tells China, enough is enough,” a US government official told the newspaper.

The US Department of State has neither confirmed nor denied that the sanctions are being planned.

“I can’t say anything about the sanctions,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, adding that “the US still has profound disagreements with China concerning cyber activity.” “We are concerned with the reports that Chinese authorities encourage attempts to obtain personal and commercial information illegally,” he said, as quoted by TASS.

Toner also announced that this issue will be discussed in the talks between Barack Obama and Xi Jinping during his visit to the USA in September.

The companies affected would likely see difficulties similar to those the entire Iranian oil sector had when the US hit it with the sanctions club. Those are problems with international bank transfers, getting foreign credits and others. The companies “will effectively be put out of business,” said Zachary Goldman, a former policy adviser at the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

The announcement of the sanctions may come amid or shortly after next month’s state visit by the Chinese president to Washington, the report said. Once issued, they would be a second major shot at China’s alleged massive government hacking of America. In May 2014, the White House secured indictments against five Chinese military officers over alleged economic hacking.

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