It’s been a long time coming, but more and more Americans are waking up to the threat of Chinese influence in our technology. This is a reality we must face as a nation and one we need to get a handle on before it’s too late.
The FBI is currently investigating more than 1,000 cases of Chinese technology theft. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently highlighted the dangers of TikTok, a popular video-sharing platform that has gained influence with young Americans. While the lip-syncing videos on TikTok may appear harmless, this company’s data harvesting on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, is far from innocuous.
The CCP’s ever-expanding influence in global technology poses a grave threat to America and our allies every single day.
And yet this isn’t a new problem. For years, the Chinese government has stolen data and information as it seeks to achieve global dominance in technology and military capabilities. More than a decade ago, Chinese hackers targeted Google, Adobe and other high-profile tech firms to steal intellectual property and personal data. Though it wasn’t the first cyberattack to originate in China, “Operation Aurora” demonstrated the severity of this threat back in 2009.
As brazen as that breach was, China continued to up the ante. A series of high-profile cyberattacks on major international retailers and U.S. defense contractors was followed by a devastating 2014-15 breach of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Communist China got its hands on the records of 19 million Americans who had applied for national security jobs — a document trove said to be the “crown jewels” of spycraft. The federal government’s response was insufficient, and the CCP escalated their attacks and fine-tuned their methods even further.
American institutions are targeted by these sophisticated attacks daily as the CCP looks to steal our intellectual property, our state secrets and our personal information.
The coronavirus crisis, fueled by the CCP’s lies at the onset of the outbreak, has further exposed these threats. The CCP threatened to withhold medical supplies as well as certain pharmaceutical ingredients that are used to manufacture critical medicines Americans rely on and use regularly. And the Department of Homeland Security has caught Chinese-affiliated hackers attempting to steal U.S. research on a coronavirus vaccine.
While cases of this virus continue to grow across the country, Americans are eagerly looking toward our science and technology leaders for a solution. As researchers work on finding effective treatments and developing a coronavirus vaccine, the U.S. must protect this research from China and other bad actors across the globe.
China’s more recent technological power not only endangers America’s national security, it also poses a serious threat to the human rights of Chinese citizens and freedom-loving people around the world. Communist governments do not tolerate any form of dissent, and Beijing routinely uses technology to surveil, silence and threaten its critics. Huawei, another company with ties to the Chinese government, regularly comes under fire for its blatant disregard of human rights. Time and time again, the CCP has demonstrated it will use malicious tactics to exert its power and to hide its missteps from the world.
The CCP has managed to fuel its own technological abilities by using cyberattacks that stranglehold their targets. And it’s time we push back on the power grabs and address the reality of these threats by Communist China. We cannot cede any further ground to this hostile regime.
In Congress, we have presented commonsense solutions that address overreach by the CCP. As members of the China Task Force, we are working to expose the CCP’s interference in our technology and develop pragmatic solutions to bolster our defenses. Our team is working on proposals that will secure American research and punish bad actors who steal intellectual property paid for by American taxpayers.
Additionally, the China Task Force is focused on equipping our scientists to win the race to 5G and remove Chinese telecom infrastructure from the United States. To achieve lasting progress, America must continue and expand its prohibition of dangerous technologies originating from China, like Huawei and ZTE, and create incentives for our allies to follow suit.
In the 21st century, the United States simply cannot afford to fall behind China’s technology momentum. For the sake of our national security and the good of the American people, we must once again lead in innovation and ensure security for our telecommunications.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger is a Republican representing Illinois’ 16th District. He serves on the Foreign Affairs and Energy and Commerce committees.
Rep. John Joyce, M.D., is a Republican representing Pennsylvania’s 13th District. He serves on the Homeland Security and Small Business committees.
Both serve on the Republican-led China Task Force, which aims to reinforce congressional efforts to counter current and emerging threats from China.