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Report cites China espionage as top threat to U.S. tech

Posted: 21 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:U.S.-China relations? telecommunications? Chinese espionage?

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's (USCC) 2007 Report to Congress calls Chinese espionage activities as the top threat to U.S. technology industry.

"Chinese espionage activities in the United States are so extensive that they comprise the single greatest risk to the security of American technologies," states the USCC summary of the report. Espionage, the report suggests, saves China the time and cost of researching and developing advanced technologies.

The report also elaborates on both positive and negative aspects of the United States' relationship with China. In draft remarks prepared for the report's presentation to Congress, Carolyn Bartholomew, chairman of the USCC, cited good news in China's constructive engagement with North Korea, its assistance to the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Sudan, and its leaders' acknowledgement of environmental problems.

However, Bartholomew pointed to problems in the Chinese government's control of the IT, telecommunications, shipping, civil aviation, and steel industries; its failure to live up to its World Trade Organization obligations; its investments in countries that violate human rights; and its control of media and information distribution.

Some U.S. companies, according to Bartholomew, are contributing to these issues. "Unfortunately, some U.S. technology companies have cooperated with and contributed to the Chinese government's censorship and propaganda systems by supplying hardware and software," she disclosed.

The commission also expressed concern about China's increasingly capable military and its ability to destroy satellites and wage cyber attacks against U.S. computer networks. Organized attacks on U.S. networks have been widely reported since 2005, following a coordinated assault that appears to have started in 2003, dubbed "Titan Rain." American security experts blame the campaign on hackers backed by the Chinese military.

The report recommends, among other steps, that Congress assess U.S. anti-espionage efforts and that additional funding is made available, if necessary, to support export control enforcement and counterintelligence efforts, "specifically those tasked with detecting and preventing illicit technology transfers to China and Chinese state-sponsored industrial espionage operations."

It also calls for more money, if deemed necessary by Congress, to support military, intelligence, and homeland security programs that monitor and protect critical U.S. computer networks and cyber-defense systems.

- Thomas Claburn

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