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U.S. Prepares Sanctions to Punish Chinese Cyber Hacking

This month President Obama will talk in person with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping about cyber-attacks against the U.S. (Image: Peter Stevens/Flickr)
This month President Obama will talk in person with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping about cyber-attacks against the U.S. (Image: Peter Stevens/Flickr)

The U.S. is formulating a series of economic sanctions for use against Chinese companies and individuals who’ve profited from the Chinese Communist Party’s cyber-theft of valuable U.S. trade secrets.

News of the Obama administration’s planned economic sanctions were announced via anonymous officials speaking to the Washington Post just weeks prior to Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping visiting the U.S.

Cyber-theft will be one of several sensitive topics the two leaders will be discussing. Other tensions include the PLA’s reclamation projects in the South China Sea and Beijing’s devaluing of the Chinese currency.

There is little public information so far on how the proposed economic sanctions will work, but it’s believed that it would be done within the scope of a large comprehensive strategy that would include diplomatic engagement and trade policy tools.

“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,” an official told the Post.

See a video about a secret NSA map obtained by NBC News which shows the Chinese government’s massive cyber assault on all sectors of the U.S. economy as well as the U.S. government and military.

If you just watched the above video you may say that any move by Washington is well overdue given the scale of the cyber-attacks. Among the hits was the severe attack on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management last year – but was only discovered this year – which compromised the personal data of millions of former and current federal employees.

In July, the FBI said that economic espionage cases were up by 53 percent in the past year, and it was the Chinese who were behind the majority of that.

And it’s costing U.S. companies billions.

The Chinese aren’t the only players when it comes to hacking computer networks for trade secrets to get an economic edge, but officials say they are the biggest culprit by far.

Last year the FBI indicted five members of the PLA for cyber-attacks and economic espionage against U.S. companies.

“The indictments were a strong move,” Rob Knake, a former White House cyber official and currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told the Post.

“[Economic sanctions] is going to be an even stronger move. It’s really going to put China in the position of having to choose whether they want to be this pariah nation — this kleptocracy — or whether they want to be one of the leading nations in the world,” he said.

For a smart tongue and cheek look at Beijing’s hacking activities against America see this episode of China Uncensored below:

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