China Tech Threat (CTT) was launched more than three years ago. This month, CTT welcomes U.S. Army Major General (Retired) James “Spider” Marks.
Gen. Marks – who served as senior intelligence officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Intelligence School in Fort Huachuca, Arizona – provided this statement upon becoming a Principal of China Tech Threat:
Over the course of my career in the U.S. military, I watched U.S. military planners go from regarding China a second-tier challenge to treating it as our pacing threat. Though I am no longer in uniform, I remain committed to defending the American way of life and ensuring that my own children and grandchildren can live in security and freedom. Protecting America from technology-related threats emanating from China is imperative.
Early in my Army intelligence career, I served as a foreign area officer in Asia focused on China. I was privileged to be able to study Chinese affairs alongside an outstanding group of civilian and military analysts. The Chinese are a deeply focused, no nonsense people. They work hard, sacrifice, and are disciplined in their pursuits. Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party is using all elements of national power – diplomacy, economics, military development, information flows, and technology – to undermine American security, prosperity, and freedoms. The Party is on another “long march” toward global supremacy.
Under the “Made in China 2025” initiative, China hopes to concentrate the world’s high-tech manufacturing inside its borders and dominate the world’s tech supply chains. Today, China intentionally blurs the lines between public and private enterprises to advance the nation’s technology goals. The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) serves as a case study for how a state-controlled institution which may not appear nefarious to Western observers uses its resources to meet the objectives of the Communist Party. You can read my views on CAS and its greatest commercial success here.
Other examples abound of how commercial enterprises have been co-opted for Beijing’s advantage. For example, China’s 2017 National Intelligence law mandates information sharing between “private” businesses and intelligence agencies, even for Chinese businesses operating in other countries. Numerous individuals working for or with state-owned enterprises have been indicted for espionage by the U.S. Justice Department. Additionally, there are ongoing concerns about certain Chinese graduate students and academics in U.S. schools, who can act as “non-traditional collectors (of intelligence), especially in the academic setting,” according to FBI director Christopher Wray. The Chinese Communist Party has mastered the art of positioning its agents to “hide in plain sight.”
China has also engaged in the greatest intellectual property theft in history, and subsequently weaponized American innovation against our own citizens. Chinese leaders, engineers, and academics are skilled at reverse engineering what they have stolen, including by copying weapon designs for C-17, F-22, and F-35 planes and the Predator drone.
There is no doubt that technology companies like Huawei, Lenovo, YMTC, Hikvision, ZTE, Lexmark, CXMT, and DJI pose a dire threat. U.S. policymakers must use their authority to stop these specific companies from controlling global market share for their products, spying on Americans, stealing data, committing human rights violations, and bolstering the Chinese military. Federal authorities – namely the Department of Commerce – must also use their power to ensure China does not dominate the AI and machine learning technologies.
Leaders at the state and local levels must take steps to prevent China from compromising their IT systems, always the weak link in cyber defense. Florida’s recent actions provide a template for how to do it.
Furthermore, American tech companies must consider the national security and privacy implications of their collaborations with Chinese tech companies. (You can read my views on that here.)
Since 2019, under the leadership of Roslyn Layton and John Strand, China Tech Threat has become a key resource for understanding how Chinese government-owned or operated technology manufacturers jeopardize U.S. economic and national security. CTT will continue to acknowledge China’s aspirations and stop both the CCP and Chinese companies from compromising our networks, platforms, and national security.