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Counterintelligence Threats

Why China is a Bigger Risk to the U.S. than Russia

With the 24-hour news cycle swirling around the hot button issue of U.S. relations with Russia, China is quietly taking advantage of the distraction to perpetrate a multitude of international crimes, from human rights violations to cybertheft to war games. President Xi’s regime has been making moves for years to achieve domination of the world economy and replace the U.S. as the world’s top superpower. Some of those moves have been more violent than others.

Violent clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong for the last ten weeks have brought instability to the country and conjured up stark reminders of the Tiananmen Square uprising of 30 years ago. Muslims in western China have been confined to “re-education camps” meant to stamp out notions of secession. 

At its borders, China faces defiance from Taiwan on its claims of ownership of the country, with the Taiwanese purchasing military weaponry from the U.S. to prepare for the instance of war. China also faces the possibility of conflict with the Philippines over South China Sea territory, having already seen a couple of military clashes and the shift of Filipino nationalism towards anti-Chinese sentiment.

China’s economic growth has actually seen a slowdown over the last decade, leaving it without the resources to create enough jobs for its millions of unemployed citizens. This has prompted increased aggression in China’s cybercrime efforts against the United States. Multiple instances of intellectual property (IP) theft have come to light in recent years, as well as documented efforts on China’s part to infiltrate the U.S. market to put American companies out of business.

One of China’s biggest cybercrimes in the last decade was the 2014 hack of the U.S. government’s personnel files, giving them access to more than 22 million files, including those of employees with top-secret security clearance. 

China has even continued to ship the drug fentanyl to the U.S. despite admonishments, given that fentanyl has been found to be one of the major culprits of prescription overdoses in America.

The current trade war has made it clear that China has no intention of abating its attacks on the U.S., be they through tariffs or ongoing cybercrime and IP theft. The question now becomes, how can we guard against these types of clandestine attacks, which are just as detrimental as military conflicts when it comes to undermining the stability of our country and its citizens?

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