‘We Are in a Terrorism Event’: Former Intel Official Urges Real-Time China Threat Sharing With US Companies

The CCP threat requires the same level of urgency and resources as the U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the past two decades. —Former head of U.S. counterintelligence William Evanina
‘We Are in a Terrorism Event’: Former Intel Official Urges Real-Time China Threat Sharing With US Companies
William Evanina, then-nominee to be director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, testifies during a hearing held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington on May 15, 2018. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Terri Wu
The Chinese Communist Party’s economic war with the United States has “manifested itself into a terrorism framework,” former head of U.S. counterintelligence William Evanina said at a congressional hearing on July 26. He recommended a new economic threat intelligence entity that would share “actionable, real-time threat information” with private U.S. companies to mitigate the risks of doing business with China.

“I would offer to this committee that we are in a terrorism event,” he told members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP threat requires the same level of urgency and resources as the U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the past two decades, he said, adding it is “a slow, methodical, strategic, persistent, and enduring event which requires a degree of urgency of government and corporate action.”

According to the FBI, the annual cost of the CCP’s intellectual property and trade secret theft amounts to $225 billion to $600 billion. Mr. Evanina said that’s the equivalent of $4,000 to $6,000  in after-tax lost wealth per American family of four.

He added that the U.S. private sector has become the “geopolitical battlespace for China,” since much of the CCP’s non-conventional intel collection is performed amid business transactions and research activities.

The hearing occurred as the House China panel initiated probes into U.S. venture capital (VC) firms a week ago for their investments in Chinese tech companies.

The VC firms under scrutiny funded China-based artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and semiconductor companies that the congressional body deemed as “directly contributing to the PRC’s human rights abuses, military modernization, expansion of authoritarianism around the globe, and the PRC’s overall effort to supplant U.S. technological leadership,” using the country’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.

At the hearing, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, emphasized the concept of the CCP’s military–civil fusion, saying that there are no truly private companies in China. The CCP isn’t in an economic competition, he said, but in a game to “determine the values that will be embedded in the foundational technologies of day-to-day life.”

Therefore, in his view, the United States is at an “inflection point,” at which its technology leadership must ensure that technology serves humanity. Otherwise, he said, the CCP’s technological dominance could affect Americans’ freedom and opportunities.

Mr. Evanina warned the lawmakers not to expect the CCP to agree with the United States on any AI framework. He also called Ford Motor Co.’s deal with Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) “selfish and misguided” and “naïve to the national security and national interests of the U.S.”

In February, Ford announced that a $3.5 billion EV battery plant would be built in Marshall, Michigan, 100 miles west of Detroit. A wholly owned subsidiary will own the factory and employ the workers, Ford said, while CATL, as part of a licensing agreement, will provide the EV battery technology, some equipment, and workers.

In response to a question from Rep. John R. Moolenaar (R-Mich.) about whether the CATL Chinese employees would spy for the CCP, Mr. Evanina said, “100 percent.”

He pointed out that it’s essential to distinguish the Chinese people from the CCP; however, the CCP often uses businessmen and engineers—people he identifies as “non-traditional collectors”—to do its bidding. And it’s very difficult for the State Department to vet these people before issuing visas because they would often lie in their applications to conceal their ties to the CCP or its military, he added.

On July 20, Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the respective chairmen of the House Select Committee on China and the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to Ford CEO James Farley and requested to review the details of the license agreement because of national security concerns and concerns over potential forced labor in CATL’s supply chain.
Ford previously acknowledged receiving the letter and said it would respond soon to the committee chairs, who gave an Aug. 10 deadline.

The company has a different view of its deal.

“On the subject more broadly, there has been a lot of misinformation about Ford’s new battery plant in Marshall, Michigan,“ a Ford spokesperson previously commented to The Epoch Times in an email. ”Here are the facts: Ford alone is investing $3.5 billion and will own and run this plant in the United States instead of building a battery plant elsewhere or exclusively importing LFP [lithium-iron-phosphate] batteries from China, like our competitors do.”

LFP batteries are cheaper but less energy-dense than the nickel-cobalt-manganese batteries that currently dominate the market.

“We’re creating 2,500 new American jobs while helping to strengthen domestic manufacturing and supply chains and reduce carbon emissions. This is good for our country, good for the planet, and good for Ford’s business,” the spokesperson said.

Ford officials didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for an updated comment.