China's tech thefts an open secret but will Biden stem it?
Over the years, Beijing has invented a number of techniques to gather the fruits of Western/American innovation. But regrettably, the Biden presidency does not look to be serious about countering the threat.
Recently, Directors of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain's MI5 -- Christopher Wray and Ken McCallum respectively -- have warned against the threat communist China poses to the West. In a joint address by the two directors at the London headquarters of MI5, FBI chief Wray said that the Chinese government "poses the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security" and to "our allies in Europe and elsewhere." McCallum chipped in that the Chinese Communist Party, which controls everything, including the government in the country posed 'the most game-changing challenge'.
Observers say the Wray-McCallum revelations have long been an open secret. Over the years, Beijing has invented a number of techniques to gather the fruits of Western/American innovation. For this, it insists that any US firm operating in China must have a Chinese partner to which it must transfer all its technology and trade secrets.
China is notorious for employing cyber theft to steal technological secrets. Beijing entices individuals in the United States into conventional espionage efforts. The US Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization has recorded numerous instances of Chinese traveling to the United States as students who hold commissions in the People's Liberation Army and have been tasked with spying on academic research. Also, China buys high-tech American equipment and reproduces it.
China's theft of technology and other intellectual property costs American businesses a minimum of $200 billion a year. Aware of this, the successive dispensations in Washington have tried to rein in China. In 1986, President Ronald Regan sought to stop Chinese theft of patents and copyrights under the auspices of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trading-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS). His successors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama revisited it in 1995, 2006 and 2015 respectively. But all in vain.
Regrettably, the Biden presidency does not look to be serious about stemming China's ongoing theft of American technology and intellectual property. The previous Donald J Trump presidency in Washington had introduced the "China Initiative" aimed at countering a wide array of Chinese threats to the United States. These threats included China's theft of sensitive information and technology, economic espionage, malicious cyber activity, malign foreign influence operations and foreign intelligence operations.
The Biden administration has ended this China Initiative. Besides, it has lifted many of the economic sanctions the Trump administration had placed on communist China.
(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)
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