The White House's decision to table penalties for Chinese cyber attacks on businesses and government agencies until after President Xi Jinping makes his official state visit makes the Obama administration look weak, Republican critics are saying.
"We have to do something," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told The Hill
. "We can’t have no response. And this administration has absolutely failed to put any sort of consequence on their actions."
For several weeks, the White House had been discussing penalties to freeze Chinese companies' and individuals' assets and ban their dealings in the United States unless action was taken.
However, a White House official told The Washington Post
this week that after four days of secret cybersecurity discussions between Chinese and American officials, the White House opted to delay sanctions before Xi's state visit occurs next week.
Ending weeks of speculation, a senior White House official told The Washington Post that the U.S. will not impose economic sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals before President Xi Jinping's state visit next week.
"I understand about quiet diplomacy, but this has been going on for far too long and I think the Chinese government has been far too complicit in this," Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., complained to reporters.
And on Friday, Republican Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emerging Threat, and Randy Forbes of Virginia introduced a resolution to push Obama on the sanctions.
As expected, the topic is stirring up heat among the GOP presidential candidates, reports The Hill.
"I win against China," Trump told a South Carolina rally recently. "You can win against China if you're smart, but our people don't have a clue."
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also attacked Obama during Wednesday's GOP debates on the issue, calling for "offensive tactics" and "super sanctions" against Chinese interests.
In addition, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has called on President Barack Obama to cancel the official state visit
while insisting he did not mean the United States should walk away from trade agreements or official relations with the Asian nation.
Administration officials say China is behind hacks at the Office of Personnel Management that exposed more than 22 million people's personal data, including security clearance forms.
Democrats,though, say the White House is making the right decision to postpone sanctions.
“I had the urge that they not put sanctions in place concurrent with President Xi’s visit,” California Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the the House Intelligence Committee’s told The Hill. “I thought that would just be so in your face as to be counter-productive. Not only on the cyber issue, but on a raft of other issues.”
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