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Sanctioning Chinese and Russian companies and individuals for their role in cyber attacks would be the first-time use of an executive order signed by US President Barack Obama in April aimed at hitting back at those who are "engaging in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities."
The White House was not prepared to answer questions on the matter, but did provide a transcript of statements by Press Secretary Josh Earnest pointing out it would be "strategically unwise" to discuss economic sanctions before officially announcing them.
"It would only allow those who could be the potential targets of economic sanctions to begin to take steps to evade that sanctions activity," the statement reads.
"We've previously indicated our concerns [about] China's activity in cyberspace. These are concerns that the president has raised directly with his Chinese counterpart in the past. Certainly,the announcement by the Department of Justice last year to indict five Chinese military officials for their actions in cyberspace should be an indication that we take these concerns very seriously," the statement went on to say.
Another reason the White House does not want to tip its hand is the upcoming state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of this month. Mulling over sanctions could also work as leverage in talks about cyber security with China, says James Lewis, a cyber security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington, D.C.
"Some people say you can see sanctions next week," he told DW. "But it might be smarter to wait until the [Obama-Xi] summit and use it as something you can negotiate with the Chinese."
Will they or won't they?....................
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