US official: China should pay price if it breaks agreement

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Justice Department official says China could face criminal charges or sanctions if the U.S. determines hackers there are violating an agreement to not conduct economic cyber espionage on American businesses.

The government’s top national security attorney, John Carlin, made the comments Tuesday at a think-tank event.

The tough talk may signal a warning toward China amid continuing skepticism and accusations of a weak administration response on the effectiveness of the September agreement.

The agreement has been touted by administration officials as an important step acknowledging hacking and labeling it as illegal theft.

California-based cybersecurity company CrowdStrike found no change in behavior and seven Chinese cyberattacks against U.S. companies for the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets just weeks into the agreement.

The Chinese Embassy declined to comment.