The rebuke comes after the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on May 13 confirmed that the FBI was investigating China-linked “cyber actors” and monitoring their attempts to “identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”
Pompeo said in a statement on May 14: “The United States condemns attempts by cyber actors and non-traditional collectors affiliated with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to steal U.S. intellectual property and data related to COVID-19 research.”
He called on the Chinese regime “to cease this malicious activity.”
Beijing has denied the hacking allegations, calling them “slander.”
The FBI and CISA had advised U.S. organizations conducting virus research to beef up their cybersecurity practices to “prevent surreptitious review or theft” of research material.
Earlier on Monday, the U.S. assistant attorney general for national security John Demers told CNBC that “biomedical research has long been at the heart of something the Chinese have wanted and something they have engaged in economic espionage to get.”
“It would be crazy to think that right now, the Chinese were not behind some of the cyberactivity we’re seeing targeting U.S. pharmaceutical companies and targeting research institutes around the country that are doing coronavirus research, treatments, and vaccines,” Demers said.
Pompeo described the regime’s cyber activities as “an extension of its counterproductive actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“While the United States and our allies and partners are coordinating a collective, transparent response to save lives, the PRC continues to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens, and to spread disinformation, which has exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis,” he said.
Pompeo has repeatedly blasted the regime for its handling of the outbreak, saying Beijing’s lack of transparency caused the global spread of the disease and hampered efforts to prevent a pandemic in the future.
“We still don’t have the samples that we need. We still don’t have the access,” Pompeo said at a May 6 press conference. “They continue to be opaque, and they continue to deny access for this important information that our researchers, our epidemiologists, need.”