U.S. Likely to Sanction Russia, China for Cyber-Attacks

The Obama administration is mulling over a package of unprecedented and substantial economic sanctions against Russia and China.

U.S. officials are currently considering sanctions to be levelled against Russian and Chinese companies and individuals in connection with cyber-attacks and breaches against U.S. targets, Reuters reports.

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Under the condition of anonymity, officials revealed that the sanctions would ban individuals and businesses in China and Russia from using any part of the U.S. financial system. Such sanctions would be unprecedented, marking the first use of an executive order signed by President Obama in April that focuses on targeting malicious hackers outside U.S. borders.

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It was the Washington Post that first reported news of the Obama administration considering sanctions against Chinese targets, while not including Russia at the time. The sanctions are expected to cast a shadow over the impending state visit by Chinese President XI Jinping this month.

China has always vehemently opposed all claims thrown its way, denying involvement in state-sponsored hacking or other cyber-attacks.

“The Chinese government staunchly upholds cyber security, firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks in accordance with law,” Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan said in a statement.

The spokesman also added that China encourages better dialogue and cooperation with the United States while adding that “groundless speculation, hyping up or accusation is not helpful to solve the problem.”

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State Department spokesman Mark Toner, while speaking to reporters at a daily briefing recently, said:

“The United States, as we all know, has sharp disagreements with China over its actions in cyberspace.

“We have remained deeply concerned about Chinese government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology from U.S. companies,” he added.

U.S.- Russian diplomacy and relations have further deteriorated in recent years with Russia’s foray into Ukraine. The sanctions, if applied, will only add to the growing sense of distrust between the countries.