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Ex-Staffer: Cyber-Sanctions Threat Shows White House Frustrated With China

Media reports suggesting that the United States may impose sanctions on China over cyber-attacks demonstrates the Obama administration is frustrated in how to respond to the threat, former White House staffer Zack Cooper said.

WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) — Over the weekend, multiple media reports cited unnamed Obama administration officials stating that the White House was preparing an unprecedented set of cyber-related sanctions against China. The sanctions would be in response to Chinese companies and individuals conducting cyber theft against US companies.

“It really shows that there are some people in the White House that are very frustrated with Chinese action in cyberspace and feel a need to respond,” Cooper said responding to a question from Sputnik during an event the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday.

Cooper, currently a fellow at CSIS, noted that US policymakers are looking to enact sanctions to provide “a real asymmetric advantage” over China’s actions in cyberspace.

The threat of these sanctions comes only weeks ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official visit to the United States.

“Do I think that there could be a negative effect on the relationship? Potentially,” Cooper said of the potential US sanctions.

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The Obama administration has yet to confirm whether they will issue new sanctions against China, but the State Department has said in recent days that sanctions remain an option in deterring malicious cyber activity.

In April, President Obama assumed new executive powers by authorizing the use of targeted sanctions to combat asymmetric cyberattacks against the United States.

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