Remember when Obama declared a national emergency in April and issued an executive order to allow sanctions for cyberattacks? The administration is now talking about using those sanctions to punish China for stealing US trade secrets, including nuclear power plant designs.
The US is infatuated with sanctions as a primary foreign policy option, despite a middling track record. But sanctions in this case would be somewhere between laughably flimsy to useless. This cybercrime sanctions policy is fatally addled by how difficult it is to pin down the origins of cybercrime.
The sanctions wouldn’t be an old-school countrywide embargo, like when the US tried to pretend Cuba was a vintage car mirage below Florida. These cybercrime sanctions would be more targeted. They would include freezing assets and refusing to do business with groups that stole, as well as groups that benefited from the theft.