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US sanctions against China may entail harsh retaliation

September 02, 2015, 17:02 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
©  AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

MOSCOW, September 2. /TASS/. The fact that the United States is accusing China of cyberattacks and is threatening it with sanctions is a sure sign the Americans get increasingly fearful over the Chinese technological boom, say Russian experts. Some note that after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations the United States has no moral right whatsoever to accuse anyone of spying in the cyber space. Should the US dare impose sanctions, China will imminently fight back.

The United States is considering the possibility of sanctions against individuals and companies in China and Russia that launch cyberattacks against the United States, Reuters said on Tuesday quoting anonymous official US sources. The Washington Post on Monday mentioned the possibility of "unprecedented" sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals involved.

US officials say, though, that a final decision regarding sanctions has not been made yet, and it is highly improbable before China’s leader Xi Jinping pays a visit to the US.

Of late, the United States ever more often accused China of hacking attacks against the websites of US companies and offices. China has systematically dismissed all of these charges. Russian officials, too, have repeatedly denied US claims Moscow was responsible for engineering acts of cyber sabotage against US resources.

"Debates over the possibility of sanctions are a political reaction, and not a technological one," the head of the school of oriental studies at the Higher School of Economics, Aleksey Maslov, is quoted as saying by the Svobodnaya Pressa (Free Press) portal. "Real protection from cyberattacks is found exclusively in the realm of technological solutions."

Washington has just made a decision to put pressures on Beijing, using cyberattacks as a pretext, he believes. "The United States finds the Chinese technological boom scaring. It’s not the expansion of Chinese mobile phone and computer brands that makes the US fearful, but the powerful Chinese industrial complexes capable of making breakthroughs in IT technologies as such. The United States once regarded China as a major market, if not the only one, for selling its products. But the Chinese IT boom has pushed US companies into the background. In attempts to retain technological leadership the United States might try to put a brake on Chinese technologies - to introduce sanctions.

"The US stance looks absurd, because that country is a recognized champion of cyber spying," the senior research fellow at the Centre of Analysis and Technologies, Vasily Kashin, has told TASS. "After Snowden’s revelations, which provide clear evidence the United States itself indulges in this type of activity to a far greater scale than any other country, has no grounds to accuse others of gathering information through computer networks."

In all likelihood an angry response from China will follow virtually in due time.

"The Chinese will fight back very harshly. Should the Americans dare hit any specific Chinese company, for instance, in the IT sector, China’s response may be disproportionately tough. China may curtail the purchases of US industrial equipment or, say, civilian aircraft. It can do so without declaring any sanctions at all."

This problem, Kashin believes, may spoil bilateral relations.

"But neither side is interested in starting a row before Xi’s visit to China. The issue will most probably be raised during the summit visit. If no agreement is forged, the parties may "exchange punches" a short while after the visit.


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