U.S. Softens Cybersecurity Stance on China before President Xi’s Visit

According to a senior U.S. administration official, the United States will not impose any sanctions on Chinese businesses and individuals, yet. Not while Chinese President Xi Jinping is due for a stateside visit next week.

A senior administration official who learned of the White House’s plans for economic sanctions against China for cyber security breaches has revealed that there will be no sanctions ahead of Chinese President Xi’s visit next week, according to the Washington Post.

The decision for cooler heads to prevail followed soon after an all-night meeting involving senior U.S. and Chinese officials. In a move to strengthen diplomacy, the two countries reached a “substantial agreement” on many cybersecurity issues, according to the senior administration official.

“They came up with enough of a framework that the visit will proceed, and this issue should not disrupt the visit,” the official claimed. “That was clearly [the Chinese] goal.”

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Speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, the official claims that the White House is being careful to avoid any diplomatic concerns. President Xi’s high-profile visit includes a black-tie state dinner at the White House that is to be hosted by President Obama.

The news comes after recent reports of sanctions being considered against Chinese and Russian citizens by the U.S. in the wake of cyber intrusions against U.S. companies and other installations.

U.S. Sanctions Are Still a Possibility

Despite the new stance, the White House is still planning on economic sanctions against Chinese citizens and businesses who are accused of launching cyberattacks against U.S. corporations and industry.

“But there is an agreement, and there are not going to be any sanctions” before President Xi arrives on Sept. 24, the official contends.

Cyberespionage operations against the United States is a growing concern, according to officials and they note that China is the most active source of all cyber-attacks targeting the U.S. Chinese hackers are alleged to steal sensitive and critical information from the American corporate industry that are then shared with companies in China, according to officials.

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If implemented, the sanctions would mark the first use of an executive order signed by President Obama in April wherein the U.S. would actively pursue means to ‘freeze financial and property assets” of any foreign nationals or companies who engage in cyber attacks or related forms of espionage.

“We’ve made very clear to the Chinese that there are certain practices that they’re engaging in that we know are emanating from China and are not acceptable,” said President Obama this Friday.