Punishing Beijing for Cyberattacks Could Impact Trade, Minister Cautions

Punishing Beijing for Cyberattacks Could Impact Trade, Minister Cautions

26 Mar    Finance News, News

Britain is urged to tread carefully in response to cyberattacks linked to China to avoid exacerbating trade tensions, cautioned a cabinet minister following accusations of a “prolific” global campaign by Beijing.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden hinted at plans to designate China as an “enhanced” security risk, necessitating individuals associated with the country or its state-linked entities to register their activities with the UK government or face criminal charges.

While such measures aim to address national security concerns, reservations persist within Whitehall, particularly within the Department for Business and Trade and the Foreign Office, fearing potential repercussions on trade relations.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan underscored the complexity of the issue, acknowledging the need to balance sanctions against the risk of triggering trade disputes. Downing Street echoed these sentiments, acknowledging divergent views within the government and the ongoing internal deliberations.

Amid mounting tensions, London and Washington jointly exposed a decade-long Chinese espionage campaign targeting politicians, journalists, and institutions. While the UK imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and organizations in response, China rebuffed the accusations, calling for more evidence and denouncing US involvement as “unprofessional.”

The US revealed details of cyber intrusions by a Chinese hacking group, APT31, targeting sensitive data of millions of Americans. Concerns extend beyond the UK, with New Zealand reporting similar cyber targeting by state-backed Chinese agents in 2021.

As geopolitical tensions escalate, balancing national security imperatives with trade considerations remains a delicate balancing act for policymakers, navigating the complexities of cyberspace in an interconnected global economy.

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