U.S. officials have issued warnings about China’s ambitions to develop artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies. These could give Beijing a significant military advantage and possibly a dominance in the health care sector.
Officials at the National Counterintelligence and Security Center stated that the warnings included a renewed effort by the center to inform business executives, academics, and local and state officials about the potential risks of Chinese investment or expertise. The center will not tell officials to refuse Chinese investment but it will encourage security measures and intellectual property control.
The administration of President Joe Biden has been aggressive in pushing back against China. Some officials call it the most strategic threat to the United States. While trying to reduce tensions with Beijing that date back to Trump’s administration, the Biden administration also sought to find common ground on trade issues and climate change.
Beijing has accused Washington of fear-mongering regarding its intentions. It also attacked U.S intelligence for its assessments on China, including accusations that Chinese leaders withheld crucial information about the coronavirus epidemic.
President Xi Jinping has set out the goals of the Chinese government to develop profitable technologies in robotics. This is part of the “Made in China” 2025 plan. The Justice Department has in recent years returned many indictments alleging that China stole sensitive U.S. information, including data on vaccine research and technology for autonomous vehicles.
In a rare briefing, Michael Orlando, the counterintelligence center’s acting chief, stated that the U.S. cannot afford to lose ground to China in key areas such as artificial intelligence, autonomous system, quantum computing and semiconductors.
Orlando pointed out that Chinese academics and businesses are dependent on the Chinese Communist Party, and must serve its interests.
He said, “Even though we have been repeating this year after year, people aren’t digesting it.”
Orlando refused to comment on whether the U.S. should place tougher restrictions or bans on Chinese investment into certain sectors. He said that his role was to not suggest policy.
Orlando stated that the counterintelligence center maintains regular briefings with academia and private industry, while acknowledging that universities and industries may still wish to attract experts, students, and investors from China. He declined to name the companies that the center had met.
Edward You, the center’s officer responsible for emerging and disruptive technology, pointed out that Chinese companies have invested in U.S. biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
WuXi Biologics, which has a vaccine manufacturing plant in Ireland since 2019, announced plans to build a facility in Massachusetts and bought a Bayer plant from Germany. Officials didn’t disclose any information about the acquisitions, but they said that they were part of a larger pattern by Chinese medical firms.
You stated that COVID-19 kits and genetic testing have been offered by Chinese companies in the U.S. and they meet federal privacy standards. However, Beijing could end up with the data collected by companies that have ties to China, You stated.
You stated that China already has the most access to medical information of all countries. He said that Beijing’s data collection and technological advancements could make it a dominant player in healthcare and leave the U.S. dependent entirely on China.
He said, “If you are President Xi, that’s the gift that keeps giving.”