Chinese Espionage on the Rise in US, Experts Warn
China is working feverishly to counteract its slowest GDP growth in recent years, and one of the ways it’s doing so, say U.S. officials, is through the theft of American corporate secrets.
“There is a concerted effort by the government of China to get into the business of stealing economic secrets to put into use in China to compete against the U.S. economy,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Chinese are afraid of ‘business gap’ that could hurt their economy now and in the future, experts say.
“While China's economic growth has been rapid and amazing over the last 30 years, the Chinese are afraid that they're going to get stuck in a technology trap,” said Adam Segal, a China Expert and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The Chinese feel that they have to rely on the West — and Japan — for critical technologies.”
To aid economic growth, Segal says that China has outlined which industries it feels are of strategic importance, including green technologies, new information technologies, biology, and high-end manufacturing.
To stay economically competitive, China has a two-pronged approach according to Segal — more research and development as well as more espionage.
“They are spending more on research and development and science as well as training more engineers and scientists,” Segal goes on to say. “But there's also a fairly widespread espionage plan put in place that's going after critical technologies.”
While China is not alone in committing espionage to gain trade secrets, experts say it poses one of the most serious threats. Last year, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Agency called Chinese actors “the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,” in its report to Congress.
“The number of prosecutions by the FBI of economic espionage cases tied back to China is on the rise. It's a very large number and so it's clearly a nation state policy to be this aggressive,” Rep. Rogers said.
He sponsored the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act(CISPA) bill, which is designed to protect U.S. companies from cyber economic espionage.
For its part, China denies the charges and calls them reckless.
“Without adequate investigation and without further evidence, accusing China of carrying out cyber-attacks against U.S. companies is not only unprofessional but also irresponsible,” says China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei when asked about the accusations in a television interview with CNBC.
Lei said that China too is a victim of cyber-theft attacks and point to his country’s efforts to stop them anywhere they happen.
“We actively promote the resolutions to attacks that threaten cross border Internet security,” Lei went on to say. “In 2010, we joined hands with Microsoft to crack down on the botnet, Waledac, and in 2011, after successfully taking down Waledac, we effectively cracked down on the botnet, Rustock. We take a firm stance on continuously playing an active role in international cooperation.”