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Photo: Castaneda Luis/AGF/UIG via Getty Images

This week the United States made two big moves against China in response to Beijing's alleged government-orchestrated theft of intellectual property. Experts believe there will be more U.S. measures to come.

Why it matters: This is a sea change in how Washington deals with China. China is thought to have stolen billions of dollars in intellectual property from U.S. firms over more than a decade through hacking and human sources. The U.S. has never gone all-in on retaliation.

What they're saying: "China is surprised. They never thought we would wake up and push back," said James Lewis, who formerly led the Commerce Department's effort to fight Chinese espionage in the tech industry.

The two big U.S. moves:

These aren't isolated actions.

The big picture: U.S. experts charge that China has hacked into U.S. companies to steal anything and everything that could build up its tech industry without having to spend money on research and development.

  • Micron, the U.S. competitor to Fujian Jinhua, has long complained about theft by that firm.
  • Obama's Justice Department did indict a handful of Chinese hackers and developed an agreement with Bejing that economic espionage would be out of bounds, but China stopped abiding by the deal after Obama left office.
  • The posture dating back to the George W. Bush administration has largely been to treat China as more of an inconvenience than a threat.

"Preventing more theft has to be an all-in strategy. For the past 15 years, our strategy has been to ask 'pretty please.' It's time to try something else," said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, a security firm that companies often bring in to keep China out.

  • CrowdStrike has seen a steady uptick in Chinese economic espionage since January.

The prognosis: Alperovitch, who has seen the ebbs and flows of Chinese hacking after past attempts to curtail it, thinks that the broad strategy behind these two U.S. moves will work. But he believes Beijing officials would need more U.S. actions and "more pain" before they yield.

  • "The key thing people need to understand is that this is one step in what will take many steps," he said.
  • Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sees "endless opportunities" for future embargoes and charges if the administration is committed to confronting China.
  • But he also questions whether the Trump administration will know how to play a strong hand. Just a few months ago, when the Department of Commerce placed severe sanctions on telecom equipment maker ZTE, Trump softened the penalty without getting Chinese concessions in return.

The White House isn't out from under ZTE's shadow, even with these actions.

  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a hawk during the ZTE dust-up, called the indictments "a step in the right direction" but pointed to the ZTE "sweetheart deal" as a sign that the Trump administration might not effectively hold China accountable.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated with an additional quote from Crowdstrike's Dmitri Alperovitch for clarity.

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker