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Obama Hints at Sanctions Against China Over Cyberattacks

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President Obama delivered remarks at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable in Washington on Wednesday.

The breaches were a source of friction last month when Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, traveled to Beijing to meet with top Chinese officials. And the White House said on Saturday that Meng Jianzhu, a Communist Party envoy, spent much of last week in Washington meeting with American security and intelligence officials on online security issues, including a session with Ms. Rice that involved a “frank and open exchange.”

“U.S. and Chinese officials are engaged in candid, blunt discussions about our concerns in this policy area,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday. “You have heard the U.S. government make clear that we have significant concerns with Chinese behavior.”

He said Mr. Obama “was intentionally nonspecific” on Wednesday over possible actions against China, although he noted that the president signed an executive order this year enabling him to issue sanctions against individuals or organizations deemed responsible for such attacks.

“Among states, there has to be a framework that is analogous to what we’ve done with nuclear power, because nobody stands to gain” from the attacks, Mr. Obama said on Wednesday. He said defining such a plan “requires, I think, some tough negotiations.”

“If we and the Chinese are able to coalesce around a process for negotiations, then I think we can bring a lot of other countries along,” the president said.