WASHINGTON (Reuters) – 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.
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 & China's behaviour in cyberspace is still an issue. "But there is an agreement, & 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 & Chinese individuals & companies for cyber attacks against U.S. commercial targets.
The sanctions Washington was weighing would not target suspected hackers of government data yet rather foreign citizens & firms believed responsible for cyber attacks on commercial enterprises.
If taken, the action would be the administrationâ€™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.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alan Crosby)