WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The White House could levy sanctions against China as soon as next week for cyberattacks on the U.S. private sector, just weeks before Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Washington.
Officials told CNN the package of penalties on individuals and commercial entities thought to be responsible for several attacks has been in the works for months, although many thought it wouldn't happen until after Xi's first state visit to the United States. Financial Times reports the move will likely come right after Labor Day, to allow for some time to pass before Xi meets President Obama on Sept. 24 and 25.
The sanctions are expected to focus on cases involving economic espionage and theft of trade secrets and will likely be used as additional punishments in cases where indictments have already been handed down. In May 2014, the Justice Department indicted five Chinese military leaders on allegations of stealing trade secrets from U.S.-based companies.
The sanctions also come after the massive hack of the Office of Personnel Management that stole background-check information on 21.5 million government employees and contractors. Some in Washington said the hack was carried out by the Chinese in an effort to infiltrate intelligence information about U.S. government workers. China denies the allegations.