The United States does not plan to impose sanctions on Chinese entities for economic cyber attacks ahead of next week’s U.S. visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested the reason was to avoid casting a shadow over Xi’s visit rather than the emergence of any major agreement between the two sides over how to handle the issue.
The Washington Post first reported the decision, citing a senior Obama administration official as saying it came after an all-night meeting on Friday during which the two sides reached “substantial agreement” on several cybersecurity issues.
The newspaper quoted the official as saying sanctions were not off the table and China’s behavior in cyberspace is still an issue. “But there is an agreement, and there are not going to be any sanctions” before Xi arrives on Sept. 24, the official said.
Last week, U.S. officials said Washington was considering sanctions against both Russian and Chinese individuals and companies for cyber attacks against U.S. commercial targets.
The sanctions Washington was weighing would not target suspected hackers of government data but rather foreign citizens and firms believed responsible for cyber attacks on commercial enterprises.
If taken, the action would be the administration’s first use of an executive order signed by Obama in April to crack down on foreign hackers accused of penetrating U.S. computer systems.