Rep. Devin Nunes: Hold China accountable – this bill protects US technology, property

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The Communist regime in China is a dishonest trade partner, a malign actor in global geopolitics, a predatory lender, and a singularly minded threat to the combined economic and national security of the free world.

Strong measures are needed to protect Americans from China’s depredations and to finally dissuade Beijing from continuing them. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have run a years-long investigation of Chinese threats. Under Chairman Mike Rogers, the committee issued a comprehensive report as early as 2012 warning about the strategic threats posed by Chinese telecoms firms Huawei and ZTE.

Thursday, I am continuing this work by introducing the Holding China Accountable Act, which would improve the security of American innovation from China’s constant assaults. The bill would implement three effective measures:

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Require Chinese firms to conform to either U.S. or European accounting standards. This would end China-based companies’ ability to evade the full auditing requirements that apply to other participants in U.S. capital markets.

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Prohibit travel to the United States by Chinese nationals whose visit to the United States involves science, technology, engineering, mathematics or a related field. The bill allows for this restriction to be waived in any year in which the president certifies to Congress that in the preceding year, China has not provided state support of cyber espionage against a U.S. company and that no person or entity in the U.S. has engaged in espionage against a U.S. company on China’s behalf.

Tighten requirements on university reporting of foreign funding. The bill would reduce the reporting threshold to $25,000, designate China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as covered nations, and increase the fine for noncompliance.

China has launched a well-orchestrated campaign to dominate key sectors of the global economy. To this end, the full power of the Chinese state is exercised to gain market share for state-owned companies, including through seemingly philanthropic investments in infrastructure that become debt traps for developing nations. Beijing exploits this dominance to advance Chinese geopolitical interests and to undermine democratic institutions.

American universities are a particular focus of Beijing’s operations. Their open settings and emphasis on collaborative scientific research make them primary targets for the theft of U.S. innovation by Chinese agents and others bribed by the regime in Beijing. 

Leading Chinese firms have been incubated and developed based on innovations stolen from the West. Funded with virtually limitless government capital, they are promoted overseas by Chinese diplomats who bribe and threaten in order to secure market share. Beijing is thereby replacing Western influence throughout the globe, particularly in nations that have infrastructure loans through China or receive significant amounts of foreign direct investment.

China is also the world’s most prolific cyber pirate. The information targeted for theft is not limited to traditional foreign intelligence targets, such as classified government networks — in fact, Chinese hackers have been found stealing data from virtually all sectors of the U.S. economy. Much of this is primarily of commercial interest and has been leveraged to gain an advantage for Chinese state-run firms.

American universities are a particular focus of Beijing’s operations. Their open settings and emphasis on collaborative scientific research make them primary targets for the theft of U.S. innovation by Chinese agents and others bribed by the regime in Beijing.

Through its Thousand Talents Plan, China recruits foreign scientists to assist in stealing foreign technology, while Confucius Institutes on U.S. university campuses function as Chinese state-run propaganda enterprises that, according to the American Association of University Professors, “advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”

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The Chinese intent to transfer everything of strategic value from the United States to mainland China is well documented. In response, the United States government has pursued numerous high-profile prosecutions, including the arrest of Chinese agents operating within the United States and the indictment of Chinese intelligence officers responsible for cybercrimes.

Since Beijing is continuing its unchecked program of massive theft of U.S. intellectual property and technology, we are left with no choice but to adopt stronger defensive measures. My bill will put Beijing on notice that America will not sit by idly while our citizens’ hard work and innovations are shamelessly stolen to benefit a totalitarian regime with global aspirations.

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