The White House does not expect that planned sanctions on Chinese individuals and businesses in response to recent cyberattacks will interfere with Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States next week.
But Xi will hear about it from President Barack Obama.
“The president will speak directly and forcefully to President Xi during the upcoming visit about cyber issues,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.
President Barack Obama, left, walks past Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Asked if China’s president might cancel or postpone the visit, Earnest said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Earnest indicated that only the Treasury Department would know the precise targets of the sanctions and then added, "Traditionally, what 'economic sanctions' refers to is targeting a certain set of individuals for a variety of reasons, in this case because they either engaged in inappropriate or deeply concerning cyber activity or they benefited from it."
“Essentially these individuals would have their access to the U.S. financial system severely limited or entirely shut off,” Earnest continued. “Because of the preeminent role financial and banking systems play in the international economy, that can have some pretty serious consequences for those individuals or those entities.”
U.S. officials believe that China was behind the hacking attack on the Office of Personnel Management, compromising the information of millions of federal employees, and other cyber espionage hacks on private American businesses.
The Washington Post reported Monday that sanctions likely would not be imposed on China until after the Chinese president’s visit.