U.S., China Cyber Battle Intensifies

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The United States and China appear locked in a cybersecurity war — of mostly words — that’s beginning to escalate.

Both the White House and Capitol Hill now explicitly criticize Beijing for failing to subdue the hackers and spies thought to reside within the country’s borders. And there are real punishments on the horizon, as the U.S. government eyes trade penalties and other restrictions on China and its top technology firms.

There needs to be “a little pain and pinch,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) in an interview this week with POLITICO. The lawmaker, a longtime China critic on cybersecurity, was referring to both Beijing and the growing slate of other countries accused of spying or stealing from U.S. businesses.

The consensus in Washington is that China has become a hub for cyberhackers, who have targeted top U.S. businesses for trade secrets and other corporate or political intelligence. A controversial report from cybersecurity firm Mandiant even pegged some of the most significant attacks to an arm of the Chinese military, though the country’s top representatives have denied the accusations.

The political tensions, though, are reaching an unprecedented level.

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