A person briefed on the White House’s thinking said on Tuesday the United States does not plan to impose sanctions on Chinese entities for economic cyber-attacks ahead of Xi’s visit to avoid what would be seen as a diplomatic disaster.
The United States has emphasized to China that industrial espionage by its government or its proxies in cyberspace goes beyond traditional intelligence gathering, Obama said.
“That we consider an act of aggression that has to stop,” Obama told the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group.
Obama said the United States is preparing measures to show the Chinese “this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on a bilateral relationship if not resolved and that we are prepared to take some countervailing actions.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest later said Obama was “intentionally non-specific” in the comments and said the US government is “hopeful” that it will not need to use sanctions or other measures against China for cyber-attacks on US commercial targets.
“It is clear that the Chinese government is being responsive to those concerns by at least engaging in a candid discussion of those issues,” Earnest told reporters.