In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, U.S. Senators warned that China is trying to gain access to sensitive information of the United States. The senators, along with spy chiefs, claim that the Chinese are using joint business ventures, information from telecommunication networks and academic data as well to achieve this.
The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, a Republican Senator, said that goods provided by certain overseas vendors and their services, came with security risks and counterintelligence, and had spread quickly in the United States which was worrisome. He mentioned Chinese telecommunication companies, like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, and claimed that they have close ties with the Chinese government.
There’s been great fears of Chinese firms spying in the United States in recent years, claims that have been denied. A Huawei representative said, that they didn’t post any greater cyber security risk than other companies. He also added that they provide their products in 170 countries and are trusted by their governments, and that these claims are an attempt, by the U.S. government, in order to try and stop their growing influence in U.S market.
In an annual hearing of the committee, it was claimed by some of the U.S. spy chiefs that China aimed to infiltrate and control all of society, by accessing and stealing intellectual property, as well as U.S. technology. Burr added that Chinese spies might be infiltrating U.S. research facilities to access sensitive information and technology that might endanger the country.
In response to the Chinese spies posing as students, the FBI Director Christopher Wray, said that the Chinese are getting more creative, as they look for avenues to access sensitive information. He added that the United States should be prepared to handle any attempts by the Chinese to access such information.
Acquiring an American company, to penetrate the U.S. markets, might soon not even be required by some of the tech companies of China, according to the Vice Chairman of the committee, Mark Warner. The Senator said that the close relationship these companies with the Chinese government is a concern, as technologies with surveillance capabilities are becoming the norm.
Recently, concerned about the leaking of secret information through surveillance, a legislation was introduced that prohibited the purchase of telecommunication devices for government use, from companies such as Huawei or ZTE. Republican Senator Tom Cotton who, along with Senator Marco Rubio, is responsible for the legislation’s introduction, said that, using Huawei or ZTE products, was not something the Intelligence officials were comfortable with.
ZTE and Huwaei have constantly denied producing equipment that could be used to spy on government officials or threatened United States’ infrastructure. These claims also led to an investigation against them in 2012.
These assertions have led to criticism from the Chinese Foreign Ministry representative, Geng Shuang, who said that United States, not China, was the world’s most powerful country. He further added that, he could not fathom where United States’ sense of insecurity originated from, and that there existed no such thing as absolute security.