US mulls unprecedented Chinese sanctions in wake of hacks – report

Asian power plays ramp up

The US government is reportedly mulling "unprecedented" sanctions against China in response to hacking.

Anonymous White House officials, speaking to the Washington Post, did not provide details on specific economic sanctions which, we're told, have already been drafted and are under consideration.

It's understood that unnamed Stateside national security and treasury officials are backing the sanctions in response to spying on networks.

“Done in tandem with other diplomatic pressure, law enforcement, military, intelligence, then you can actually start to impose costs and indicate that there are costs to the bilateral relationship,” an official told the paper.

The White House declined to comment.

News of the possible sanctions tipped up in the same month that China President Xi Jinping was set to arrive in Washington for his first state visit.

Tensions have been high between the two countries. The US has publicly accused Beijing of funding hacking teams to steal intellectual property from American companies, while the FBI has named alleged state-backed hackers on its "Most Wanted" lists.

Tensions more broadly in islands in the South China sea and around Japan are seen as a sign of emergent Chinese superiority. Analysts have said that such regional chest-beating was a challenge to US dominance in Asia and an attempt to cause Washington to choose between losing influence or confronting Beijing.

Rumours of economic sanctions could be seen in this light as a retaliatory feint at the People's Republic. ®

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