The Chinese government took unprecedented action by complying with a U.S. request and arresting hackers suspected of stealing secrets from U.S. companies to pass to Chinese state-run companies, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The arrests came in September before Chinese President Xi Jinping went to Washington for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that included one of the most contentious issues between the two countries – corporate and government cyber espionage.
The Post, which cited sources speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the matter, said U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials presented China with a list of hackers.
A source familiar with the matter said U.S. officials told China, “We need to know that you’re serious. So we gave them a list and we said, ‘Look, here’s the guys. Round them up.'”
The Post said the Chinese government arrested several individuals but did not publicize the action.
The newspaper said Obama administration officials now are watching to see if the suspects will be publicly tried, which could deter other potential hackers.
During his meeting with Xi, Obama said the United States would use sanctions, traditional law enforcement and other measures if China did not follow through on its commitment to curb cyber espionage.