A top Senate Democrat called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael FromanOvernight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout Froman heads to Council on Foreign Relations Overnight Finance: Carson, Warren battle at hearing | Rumored consumer bureau pick meets Trump | Trump takes credit for Amazon hirings | A big loss for Soros MORE to file a case against China over its cyber spying.
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerGOP fundraiser enters crowded primary for Pa. Senate seat Dems: Trump risks government shutdown over border wall Miners' union shouldn't look to feds to bail out mismanaged pension fund MORE (N.Y.) urged Froman on Thursday to file a case against Beijing at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in response to cyberattacks on U.S. businesses.
On Monday, the Justice Department issued criminal indictments on five members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for online theft of trade secrets from U.S. firms.
"The Obama Administration has been vigilant in enforcing the trade rights of American businesses, farmers and workers, including with respect to China," a USTR spokesman told The Hill.
"We will continue to explore all avenues to ensure that we hold China to account for trade agreement violations."
Schumer said that since China won't extradite those involved to go on trial here, U.S. government officials have to seek damages through a WTO suit.
"Cyber-attacks from China and other nations could prove crippling to American businesses in the years to come, so we need real teeth in our response,” Schumer said.
"DOJ did the right thing in filing these indictments, but the only way to really punish China for these outrageous attacks is through the WTO."
In the letter, Schumer notes that the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) contained in the WTO requires each participating nation to protect trade secrets.
He said the United States has to show that this type of "behavior is unacceptable and will have serious consequences."
This story was updated at 10:05 p.m.