Information and Threats from China: December 3-6, 2019

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From the Reagan Institute Task Force: Strengthening America’s National Security Innovation Base in an Era of Strategic Competition

To read the report in full, click on the image below.

Here are a few of the key highlights from the report:

☐ Without question, China is the chief pacing technological competitor to the United States. It explicitly seeks to supplant the United States as the world’s top innovation power. Toward this end, China has embarked on an aggressive plan of military–civil fusion focused on critical and emerging technologies. This plan has the potential to disrupt global stability and ultimately undermine the security and prosperity of the United States and its allies.

☐ Under its authoritarian leaders, the Chinese innovation system leverages forced tech transfer, industrial espionage, and outright theft to access foreign breakthrough technologies and strengthen its own innovation base. China can therefore focus on innovating incrementally and commercializing quickly. Additionally, China’s exploitation and theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP) continue to rob the United States of substantial economic value and technological leadership in numerous fields. The United States is losing between $400 billion to $600 billion per year in IP theft as a matter of provable losses—and that figure does not account for second-order losses, such as jobs and infrastructure. Chinese theft has robbed certain companies of game-changing innovations, taking them out of the marketplace or destroying them entirely.

☐ American universities are key links in developing new technologies, and China deliberately targets them by exploiting the vulnerabilities inherent in the open educational and research environment. Beijing has a focused and resourced effort to do so through a sustained strategy of technology transfer at universities. This campaign includes both Chinese nationals (witting and coerced) and non-Chinese nationals.

☐ The U.S. government should establish, maintain, and publicly release a list of academic institutions and other organizations that have a history of improper technology transfer, IP theft, or cyber espionage, or that operate under the direction of the PLA or Chinese intelligence services. The government should ban individuals who are either members of the PLA or affiliated with one or more of the organizations on this list from obtaining an F visa or J visa to the United States.

From Nikkei Asian Review: Lawmakers push for probe of German companies’ role in Xinjiang

“In the wake of a U.S. Congressional vote to target companies involved in repression in China’s Xinjiang region, German legislators are pushing for their own inquiry into the activities their of multinationals such as Siemens. The possible role of German companies in ethnic repression is a touchy topic in Berlin given the involvement of industrial groups such as Volkswagen and Siemens with slave labor during the Nazi era…”

“Though lawmakers have not converged on a specific proposal yet, their calls for an investigation come amid a wider parliamentary revolt against a government proposal that could allow China’s Huawei Technologies to supply equipment for 5G networks in the country. Discomfort with policies that have allowed Chinese companies to buy out leading high-tech companies like robotics maker Kuka have pushed the government to step up controls and defenses against takeovers by non-EU purchasers.”

From FRANCE 24: AI judges and verdicts via chat app: the brave new world of China’s digital courts

“Artificial-intelligence judges, cyber-courts, and verdicts delivered on chat apps — welcome to China’s brave new world of justice spotlighted by authorities this week. China is encouraging digitization to streamline case-handling within its sprawling court system using cyberspace and technologies like blockchain and cloud computing, China’s Supreme People’s Court said in a policy paper.”

“The efforts include a ‘mobile court’ offered on popular social media platform WeChat that has already handled more than three million legal cases or other judicial procedures since its launch in March, according to the Supreme People’s Court.”

From The Epoch Times: Bipartisan Senate Group Wants to Ensure Huawei Barred from Energy System

“Six senators, including five Republicans and Maine independent Sen. Angus King, aren’t satisfied that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) understands and is adequately prepared to respond aggressively to the threat represented by Huawei to U.S. energy infrastructure.”

“’We write today to get assurances from you that [FERC] fully appreciates the threat posed to the nation’s energy infrastructure by the use of equipment manufactured by Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (Huawei),’ the senators told commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee in a Dec. 4 letter. ‘Creating a new cybersecurity division within your agency is a good start. We are hopeful that one of the new division’s first objectives will be to defend this infrastructure against the threats posed by the use of equipment manufactured by Huawei,’ the senators said.”

From The Advocate: New Orleans FBI agent: Louisiana not immune from Chinese espionage

“Though it is relatively well-known the Chinese government has been stealing trade secrets from American industry, it is also happening at our colleges and universities. American colleges and universities have long been the envy of the world, and much of their success can be attributed to an academic culture that embraces the free exchange of ideas and international collaboration. This culture led to countless scientific and technological breakthroughs.”

“We now know the Chinese government employs specialized programs, called Talent Plans, to financially incentivize and pressure participants to transfer American research and technology to further the scientific, industrial, or military goals of the People’s Republic of China.”

“LSU holds advanced research in the areas of sustainable and renewable energy. Louisiana Tech University houses the Center for Numerical Simulation and Modeling, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette hosts the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise. Given their importance to Louisiana and the United States, it is not surprising each of these areas of research are a potential target of the Chinese government.”

From Strider Technologies: How China is Exploiting Western Government Funding and Research Institutes to Leapfrog in Dual-Use Quantum Technologies

To read the report in full, click on the image below.

A few of the key highlights from the report:

☐ For more than a decade, China has implemented an intentional strategy to “assign” Chinese quantum scientists to leading research institutes around the world, including in the United States, UK, Germany, and Switzerland, to “master cutting-edge research” with the support of Western government funding after making “unwritten agreements that they must return to China after their studies are complete” to support PRC government dual-use quantum research programs. China’s strategy has succeeded in building a competitive advantage over the U.S. and other nations in certain quantum technologies with military applications.

☐ Pan Jianwei [潘建伟] developed and leads this strategy. Pan, known as China’s “father of quantum,” is Head of the Division of Quantum Physics and Quantum Information at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), which drives China’s quantum science collaboration with Western research institutes alongside parallel collaboration with China’s major state-owned defense companies. Pan is also a concurrent part-time professor at Germany’s Heidelberg University.

☐ Western Universities and research labs have been compromised at the highest levels. Pan and PRC government agencies have recruited a number of Western scientists with monetary incentives through government talent programs. Western quantum scientists inducted into PRC talent programs include Matthias Weidemuller, Dean of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Heidelberg University, and Barry Sanders, a theoretical physicist at the University of Calgary in Canada.

☐ Heidelberg University is arguably the most important foreign partner behind China’s rapid progress in dual-use quantum technologies. Over the past decade, Heidelberg University has provided physical equipment to USTC’s quantum lab, trained, and continues to train, a generation of USTC quantum scientists, and engages in cutting edge joint research with USTC.

From The National Post: Censored by a Chinese tech giant? Canadians using WeChat app say they’re being restricted

“As publisher of one of Canada’s few Chinese-language newspapers that dares to cover Beijing critically, Jack Jia feels he has a duty to give his readers balanced, skeptical reporting. To that end, he tries to spread the reach of Chinese News by posting its articles on WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese communications app used extensively by the diaspora here.”

“But that practice hit a sudden obstacle last month, when WeChat began restricting his use of the site, blocking access to his account and delivering an ominous message. Jia had been reported for ‘multiple instances of non-compliance,’ it said. He has been blocked three more times in recent weeks — the latest incident this past Sunday — but that was not all.”

“For six months, messages Jia posts in group chats have been invisible to users in China. And articles and other posts he puts on his WeChat Moments page, similar to a Facebook timeline, have been inaccessible even to people in Canada and the United States, he says.”

From the New York Times: China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West

“In a dusty city in the Xinjiang region on China’s western frontier, the authorities are testing the rules of science. With a million or more ethnic Uighurs and others from predominantly Muslim minority groups swept up in detentions across Xinjiang, officials in Tumxuk have gathered blood samples from hundreds of Uighurs — part of a mass DNA collection effort dogged by questions about consent and how the data will be used.”

“In Tumxuk, at least, there is a partial answer: Chinese scientists are trying to find a way to use a DNA sample to create an image of a person’s face.”

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