As the White House prepares to announce economic sanctions against Chinese companies over alleged cyberattacks, some experts believe the move could prompt President Xi Jinping to cancel his upcoming visit to the United States.
In June, it was revealed around four million federal employees and contractors’ personal information were breached when the Office of Personnel Management system was hacked, which U.S. intelligence officials have traced back to China.
“The Chinese right now are getting very concerned because they understand this will create embarrassing optics around the visit for them,” said Samm Sacks, China analyst at the Eurasia Group, told The Hill, adding that the president will make the country look weak if he doesn’t implement the sanctions soon.
Presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker has called for President Barack Obama to call off the September meeting with the leader in light of the suspected cyber-espionage.
Bejing has denied any involvement in the hacks, and called the accusations “groundless attacks against China.”
Obama is breaking the tradition of staying at the Waldorf Astoria for the United Nations General Assembly, which was bought by Chinese investors last year, in fear of the country spying into sensitive information, the New York Times reports.
Xi’s September trip would mark his first official visit to the United States since taking office.
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