By Andrew Blake
China is reported to have arrested several computer hackers at the behest of the United States government. The arrests come in the wake of President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House last month, as the U.S. continues to weigh imposing sanctions as a result of cyberattacks blamed on Beijing.
Officials within the Obama administration confirmed the arrests to the Washington Post on Friday and said the individuals apprehended are accused of participating in espionage campaigns in which secrets were stolen from U.S. companies to be handed off to competitors in China.
But with the arrests having occurred amid ongoing talks concerning the possible imposition of sanctions against China as a result of wave of cyberattacks, the White House is now waiting to see if authorities will move forward with prosecuting the supposed criminals or let their actions slide.
An individual who spoke with the Washington Post on condition of anonymity said in explaining the reasoning for requesting the arrests: “We gave them a list, and we said, ‘Look, here’s these guys. Round them up.’” This tactic was reportedly to show China took its role in the relationship “seriously”.
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