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Chinese industrial espionage on the rise, the US Justice Department warns

Last Updated on 2020/12/06

“More cases are being opened that implicate trade secret theft” — and more of them point to China, said U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Adam Hickey.

Chinese theft of industrial secrets on the rise, US Department of Justice

Amid the US-China trade war, the US Department of Justice advised US companies to increase their defenses against potential cyber-attacks and theft of trade secrets.

According to Deputy Attorney General Adam Hickey, there are numerous cases of theft of trade secrets, and most of them see China as the number one suspect.

Since 2012, more than 80% of the industrial espionage cases faced by the office have involved China, and this frequency has increased over the past few years.

However, this increase could be explained by greater attention from the victims, who over the years have increased their awareness of this kind of threat, said Hickey during an interview with CNBC in Singapore.

The “China Initiative” was launched in November 2018 to counter and identify theft of intellectual property, state secrets, hacking and economic espionage operations.

“We expect other nations will want to become self-sufficient in critical technologies. That’s what we’d expect of a responsible government,” he said. “The issue isn’t that China has set out to do that. It’s that part of their industrial policy, part of the way they try to accomplish that, is state-sponsored theft or creating an environment that rewards or turns a blind eye to it.”

Hickey pointed out that this behavior is presumably related to the “Made in China 2025” strategic plan, which the Chinese government introduced in 2015, a plan designed to reduce dependence on imported technology in 10 priority sectors including robotics, IT, aviation, rail transport, and biopharma.

“We’ve charged cases, I believe, in eight of those 10 sectors, IP theft cases,” Hickey said.

The Justice Department of China Initiative also emphasizes cybersecurity threats and telecommunications vulnerabilities. [source]

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