30 Years After Tiananmen: Is Communist China Crushing the Effort to Secure America’s Electric Grid?

30 Years After Tiananmen: Is Communist China Crushing the Effort to Secure America’s Electric Grid?
Power lines outside Delta, Utah on March 28, 2016. (George Frey/Getty Images)
Tommy Waller

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Chinese regime’s massacre of student-led, peaceful protesters who called for democracy and open government. In 2019, the hand of the Chinese Communist Party reaches into America, where it supports a lobbying organization that downplays threats to America’s electric grid and opposes stronger security standards.

Retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Michael Mabee, a member of the Secure the Grid Coalition, today revealed that the mammoth trade association representing nearly all investor-owned U.S. electric utilities—The Edison Electric Institute (EEI)—includes members that are Chinese state-owned companies. These EEI members have an obligation under Chinese National Intelligence Law to “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.”
Yesterday, some of the Free World’s foremost experts on the threat of Communist China came together in Washington for a meeting of the “Committee on the Present Danger: China (CPDC)” on the topic “Tiananmen Plus Thirty: The Chinese Communist Party’s Unrestricted Warfare Against Freedom.”
One after another, the CDPC presenters exposed methods by which Communist China is executing the warfighting concept conceived in the late 1990s by two People’s Liberation Army Colonels and published in their book “Unrestricted Warfare.” China expert Roger Robinson referenced a specific passage (p. 191) of the book that postulated a number of critical questions, two of which are immediately applicable to electric grid security:
  • Question 1: “During a war between two countries, during the fighting and killing by two armies, is it necessary to use special means to wage psychological war aimed at soldiers’ families far back in the rear area?”
The Congressional EMP Commission has consistently reported that, indeed, China considers an attack on America’s critical infrastructure a priority.  In its 2017 report titled “Foreign Views of Electromagnetic Pulse Attack,” the Commission pointed out the following writing from Shen Weiguang, a senior Chinese academic military theorist, in his book “The Third World War: Total Information War”:

“As soon as its computer networks come under attack and are destroyed, the country will slip into a state of paralysis and the lives of its people will ground to a halt. Therefore, China should focus on measures to counter computer viruses, nuclear electromagnetic pulse, laser, bunch of particles, and other photoelectric wave weapons and quickly achieve breakthroughs in those technologies in order to equip China without delay with equivalent deterrence that will enable it to stand up to the military powers in the information age and neutralize and check the deterrence of Western powers, including the United States.”

Clearly, the Chinese are interested in protecting their own critical infrastructure and networks against cyber and electromagnetic (EMP) attack so it seems fitting for the United States to seek to do the same.  This leads to the second of the many troubling questions cited in “Unrestricted Warfare”:

Question 2: “Can special funds be set up to exert greater influence on another country’s government and legislature through lobbying?”

If China wanted to influence the United States to under-protect American critical infrastructure, gaining access to EEI would be one effective way of doing this. In 2018, EEI expended $8,109,166 on lobbying, which is supported through its membership dues and is conducted before the U.S. Congress and also the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the government agency that approves electric grid security standards.

Interestingly, EEI’s lobbying activities have included opposing stronger cybersecurity protections for grid infrastructure. In its corporate communications, EEI has downplayed the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP). EEI recently argued that the names of companies who violate federal Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards should be withheld from public scrutiny.

Sergeant Major Mabee rightly points out that EEI’s lobbying could benefit the Chinese Communist regime. Chinese agents have already infiltrated the U.S. electric grid, according to disclosures by senior U.S. officials.

The executives and U.S. utility members of EEI should take a close look at the book “Unrestricted Warfare” and then reexamine their membership policy for companies beholden to foreign intelligence services. EEI’s activities should fall on the side of freedom, not pave the way for Communist China to take down America’s electric grid, and with it—our nation.

Tommy Waller is vice president for special projects at the Center for Security Policy. In that capacity, he has been involved in a project called The Secure the Grid Coalition.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Tommy Waller serves as Director of Infrastructure Protection at the Center for Security Policy. Prior to joining the Center, Waller served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps in the infantry and reconnaissance specialties, with combat service overseas in numerous theaters, and service on both active duty and in the reserves. Waller currently manages the Secure the Grid Coalition—a group of policymakers, defense professionals, and activists working diligently to secure America’s most critical infrastructure—the U.S. electric grid. Learn more at SecureTheGrid.com.
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