WASHINGTON — One senior Democratic lawmaker is calling on President Obama to make it clear to China's President Xi Jinping that the United States is ready to "impose real costs" on China if they continue to steal American intellectual property.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., suggested that Obama, who is scheduled to a hold two days of meetings with Xi next week in California, underscore to the newly installed Chinese president that the Senate is moving forward with legislation that would create a watch list of foreign countries that engage in economic or industrial espionage in cyberspace.
If passed, the bill, which is co-sponsored by Levin, would require the president to block imports of certain goods from countries, if he determines they benefited from stolen U.S. technology or intellectual property.
"I thought you could refer to this bill in your meeting with President Xi as an example that the U.S. will indeed impose real costs on China should they continue to steal our intellectual property," Levin wrote in a letter to Obama that was released by the Michigan lawmaker's office Wednesday.
Levin's push comes as cyber-security has become a growing source of tension between the two countries.
This week, The Washington Post published parts of a confidential defense report accusing Chinese hackers of compromising some of the most sensitive and advanced U.S. weapons systems.
In March, Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, called on China's government to take action to stop the theft of data from American computer networks and create global standards for cyber-security. Donilon visited Beijing this week and underscored U.S. concerns about cyber-security during wide-ranging talks with senior Chinese officials, according to the White House
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that cyber-security would be one of several topics Obama would discuss with Xi, when they meet June 7 and 8 at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
"We've been clear in our concern about cyber-security, and our concern about the fact that there have been cyber-intrusions emanating from China," Carney said.
The two days of meetings between Obama and Xi will mark the first meeting between the two leaders since Xi took office in March.