By Doug Kelly, CEO of the American Edge Project
As Congress rushes forward anti-innovation legislation that would weaken America’s top tech companies, a new report exposes a multi-year effort by Chinese government-linked hackers to steal sensitive data from some three-dozen manufacturing and technology firms in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
The hackers targeted companies in the pharmaceutical, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors with the goal of stealing critical intellectual property (IP) and blueprints that would increase China’s capabilities and competitiveness. U.S. officials and cyber-analysts cite China’s “Made in 2025” plan – an ambitious state effort to achieve global economic dominance – as a guide for the types of companies Chinese hackers are targeting.
The attack is thought to be one of the largest IP theft campaigns of its kind coming from China. In fact, many of the targeted companies were unaware that they had been breached, providing the hackers with unfettered access to sensitive and proprietary data.
Though a spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington denied the attacks and claimed that China “will never encourage, support, or condone cyberattacks,” the reality proves otherwise. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said China is cyberattacking the U.S. more than all other countries – with over 2,000 attacks currently under investigation.
Additionally, China steals more than $500 billion in IP from the U.S. every year. The Cyber Corps, one of China’s most secretive units, has more than 100,000 hackers, language specialists, and analysts focused on conducting multi-year campaigns against critical U.S. firms, including high-tech targets, vaccine makers, pharmaceutical companies, and more.
In addition to economic espionage, Beijing-linked hackers allegedly launched a major cyberattack on Ukraine’s military and nuclear facilities before Moscow invaded the country.
America’s tech companies are fighting back. In response to a White House cybersecurity summit in 2021, America’s biggest tech companies are spending tens of billions more on cybersecurity, including training 250,000 more cybersecurity professionals, creating more advanced detection and prevention tools, upgrading government security systems, and hardening supply chains, including multifactor authentication and security training.
Instead of supporting America’s leading tech companies in their efforts against China and other authoritarian adversaries, some in Congress are rushing forward with election-year anti-innovation legislation that would handcuff our strongest partners in this global battle. Collectively, these anti-tech bills would break up our biggest companies, restrict lines of business they could operate in, and prohibit them from acquiring break-through technologies through mergers. Worse, many of the restrictions Congress would place on our tech companies would not apply to China-based companies. In some cases, U.S. companies would be forced to hand over sensitive data to their foreign competitors.
Increasingly, technology power is geopolitical power. China knows this and that’s why they are stealing our tech and trade secrets as well as investing trillions in increasing its own capabilities. Congress needs to realize that technology is not just another sector, but is the very backbone of our national security, economic prosperity, and core values. Lawmakers should turn away from their current regulatory overreach and instead focus on passing legislation that strengthens the U.S.’s ability to innovate and increases our domestic supply of critical technology.
Congress already made the mistake of handing over our manufacturing edge to China. There’s too much at stake for the U.S. and our allies to make the same mistake again with technology.