Bipartisan Bill Would Fight Digital Threats from China

January 19, 2019 by TWN Staff
President Donald Trump's push to save ZTE, a company his own administration imposed penalties on only weeks ago, has spurred an uproar from lawmakers. (Joan Cros/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/TNS)

This week, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives to toughen the United States’ position against national security threats posed by technology competitors like China. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Jim Himes (D-CT).

The bill tackles a critical issue facing America as the technology race heats up. China’s state-directed and state-supported efforts to achieve economic dominance by stealing intellectual property from American businesses are well-documented. Meanwhile, the over-reliance of Americans on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks – such as cell phones made by Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE – creates major supply chain risks.

The bill will create a new office within the White House that will serve as a central coordinator to combat the assault on American innovation which threatens our national security. The executive-level Office of Critical Technologies & Security will be tasked with interagency coordination and creating a long-term strategic plan to combat state-sponsored technology theft and supply chain vulnerabilities.

The Office of Critical Technologies & Security will consult with federal regulators, the private sector, academics and experts to make sure every available tool is being used to protect the supply chain and emerging technologies.

“China’s coordinated assault on American companies, the U.S. government and American intellectual property is part of a broader strategy aimed at attaining leadership in advanced technology and 21st century great power politics. We must continue to hold bad actors accountable,” said Congressman Will Hurd, who spent nearly a decade fighting to secure our homeland as an undercover officer in the CIA. “I am proud to join my colleagues today to introduce this bipartisan bill that ensures that our nation uses every tool in our arsenal to combat this continued national security threat and keep Americans safe.”

“We can’t be too tough when it comes to our national security,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “We have long suspected Beijing uses its telecom companies to spy on Americans and we know China is responsible for up to $600 billion in theft of U.S. trade secrets. It’s time to get our ducks in a row: we need a coordinated, dedicated team armed with a long-term plan to ensure America maintains superiority.”

“Passivity in the face of increased global threats would be a grave mistake,” said Congressman Himes. “Through the establishment of this office, we will not only increase our capacity to respond to Chinese aggression, but also signal to geopolitical rivals around the world that we will fiercely defend our national security, technology and intellectual property. This step is long overdue and will hopefully move us further toward a comprehensive cyber strategy.”

“Chinese telecommunications giants, such as Huawei and ZTE, have well established ties to the Chinese Communist Party and a long history of providing a vehicle for the Chinese government to spy on American citizens and our federal government,” said Congressman Conaway. “It’s critical that we respond to these rising national security threats aggressively, and utilize whatever tools we have available to prevent foreign entities from harming our country.”

The legislation is the House companion to a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).  

For a copy of the bill text, click here.

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