US Intelligence Agency Warns Companies on China’s ‘Comprehensive’ Efforts to Acquire Critical Technologies

By Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Reporter
Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
October 22, 2021 Updated: October 22, 2021

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) launched an outreach campaign on Oct. 22 to warn and instruct U.S. organizations engaged in critical and emerging technologies about the dangers posed by foreign states’ counterintelligence operations.

“In recent months, NCSC has begun engagements with various entities in these sectors to provide information on nation-state threats to their organizations and ways to mitigate risks,” said Dean Boyd, chief communications executive for the NCSC, in an email to The Epoch Times.

“We plan to step up our engagements and broaden our reach going forward. Our goal is to reach the broadest audience possible.”

The NCSC warned that China and Russia, in particular, were seeking to steal or otherwise co-opt American technologies for their own ends, and could supersede the United States in key fields within the next decade.

“American technological dominance is under threat by strategic competitors like the PRC [People’s Republic of China], which possesses the might, talent, and ambition to potentially surpass the U.S. as the world’s leader in AI in the next decade if current trends do not change,” said a NCSC factsheet released to promote the campaign.

The NCSC’s warning echoes sentiments recently expressed by former chief software officer of the Air Force, Nicolas Chaillan, who resigned from his post, and claimed that the United States would lose a future war with China if it did not work to immediately secure and enhance its cyber capabilities.

Boyd underscored the severity of the situation by noting that the NCSC had knowledge of multiple instances in which American technology was co-opted and utilized by the Chinese regime.

“There are multiple examples in which technology, data, talent and intellectual capital from these emerging U.S. technology sectors have been acquired by the PRC government and put to use in fulfilling the PRC’s national and geopolitical goals,” he said.

The factsheet, titled “Protecting Critical and Emerging U.S. Technologies from Foreign Threats,” said that China and Russia were leveraging legal, quasi-legal, and illegal means to supplant U.S. dominance in five key sectors.

Those sectors were artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, bioeconomy, semiconductors, and quantum.

It warned that the ability of American companies and research organizations to effectively secure their products and intellectual property would play a paramount role in whether the United States continued to maintain a technological advantage over its competitors and adversaries.

“These sectors produce technologies that may determine whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors in the next few years,” the factsheet said.

The NCSC, which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, stressed that it is not urging companies to “decouple” from China completely, but that it is seeking to engage American organizations to better protect critical and emerging technologies.

An increasing number of security experts have recommended that the United States halt and ban all transfers of AI and other technologies to China.

This is because Chinese national security laws require that companies engaged in business in China share information with the government, military, and intelligence agencies, experts say. These laws also extend to Chinese nationals abroad—such as Chinese investors who give money to American startups and thus gain access to intellectual property associated with their investments—who could be forced by the Chinese regime to divulge that information.

Boyd said that some of the organizations contacted as part of the campaign already conduct business in mainland China, while others did not.

He also noted that some companies had a firm understanding of related security issues, while others were wholly unaware of China’s national security and intelligence laws.

The NCSC factsheet noted the laws, and warned that they were a key factor in China’s continued ability to challenge U.S. dominance.

“The PRC ranks as the primary strategic competitor to the United States because it has a well-resourced and comprehensive strategy to acquire and use technology to advance its national goals, including technology transfers and intelligence gathering through its Military-Civil Fusion Policy and a National Intelligence Law requiring all Chinese entities to share technology and information with the PRC military, intelligence, and security services.”

In all, the NCSC’s campaign is in line with the 2020-2022 National Counterintelligence Strategy, which calls for critical infrastructure, supply chains, the economy, and cyber operations to be taken into account along with traditional counterintelligence capabilities.

As such, the NCSC is encouraging U.S.-based companies and research organizations working in the related sectors to prioritize security best practices, seek to mitigate insider threat, and maintain connections with the U.S. government regarding continuing and emerging threats.

Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.