As the White House gets ready for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s big visit next week, President Obama is planning to talk tough on cyber issues. The Financial Times reports:
Speaking to the Business Roundtable in Washington, Mr Obama said cyber espionage would “probably be one of the biggest topics that I discuss with President Xi”. The US president said he accepted that China and other nations, including the US, would pursue traditional espionage, such as trying to obtain transcripts of his conversations, but stressed that stealing commercial secrets was “an act of aggression that has to stop”.“We are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved and that we are prepared to take some countervailing actions in order to get their attention,” Mr Obama told the trade group of business leaders.
This is not the first time we’ve heard Obama threaten this sort of action. Last month, The White House signaled that it was prepared to impose unprecedented sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals. Yet U.S. warnings seem to have little effect on Xi, who has kept the fortification of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea right on track. We wonder if Obama might have had more success getting China’s attention if he had followed Xi’s lead: act tough, talk nice.