The National Counterintelligence and Security Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is seeking to educate U.S. businesses engaging with Chinese companies, warning against threats like intellectual property theft, and other illegal means China uses to acquire U.S. research and tech to achieve its goals.
The NCSC this month has issued several public warnings to U.S. companies as they engage with Chinese companies, urging them to "understand the legal landscape" in the People's Republic of China.
"Entering an agreement with a company based in China? Understand the legal landscape," NCSC tweeted earlier this month, pointing to Chinese laws that compel Chinese companies to "provide data they obtain or information stored on their networks to China’s state security apparatus upon request."
NCSC was referring to Article 7 of the PRC's National Intelligence Law, which states that "all organizations and citizens shall support, assist, and cooperate with national intelligence efforts in accordance with the law, and shall protect national work secrets they are aware of."
Also, Article 28 of the PRC's Cybersecurity Law states that network operators "shall provide technical support and assistance to public security organs and national security organs that are safeguarding national security and investigating criminal activities in accordance with the law."
While Article 77 of the PRC's National Security Law also requires citizens and organizations to provide national security, public security and military authorities with "needed support and assistance."
Former NCSC Director Bill Evanina told Fox News earlier this year that China is at an "unfair competitive advantage," explaining that it is "difficult for us as Americans to understand, because we are clearly bifurcated between the government and the private sector and criminal element."
"This is not the case in China. In China, they all work together," Evanina explained. "When you partner with a Chinese company, you need to understand they are obligated to share your data with their intelligence services."
Evanina told Fox News that the U.S. intelligence community has spent the last two years primarily targeting CEOs and boards of directors to make sure they understand the "consequences," and their “vulnerabilities."
"We are asking them to go in with their eyes wide opened," he said. "Go in and understand the risk, and buyer beware. We are not saying don't do it, we are just saying, be aware."
Evanina shifted, pointing to Big Tech as an example, and explaining the "paradigm differential" that the U.S. and China have.
"Hypothetically, when the CCP and intelligence services come into the U.S. and have a cyber breach, they have data, they take that back, and can force their Chinese companies to condition data, analyze it, and provide it back to Chinese intelligence services for action," Evanina said. "We can't do that in the U.S."
Evanina said that if the U.S. collects data through an espionage operation overseas, the intelligence community cannot turn to Big Tech companies and ask for help in analyzing it.
"It doesn't work that way," he said. "And I think that's the unfair playing advantage as well when it comes to the ever spooky world of espionage."
Evanina added that the intelligence community will "continue to use its own organic capabilities — both technology and humans — to condition data and analyze it.”
Meanwhile, earlier this month, NCSC also warned about China's "14th five-year plan for advancement in strategic areas," like quantum, artificial intelligence and biotech.
"US entities in these sectors should know they are targets," NCSC warned. "China uses a range of illegal, quasi-legal & legal means to acquire US research & tech to achieve its goals."
NCSC warned that intelligence services, talent recruitment programs, research partnerships, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and more are avenues for China to attempt to acquire U.S. intellectual property and technology.
And last month, NCSC warned of China’s collection of health care data and DNA of Americans, warning that the efforts pose "serious risks" to the privacy of Americans and to U.S. economic and national security.
NCSC warned that China has collected large health care data sets from the U.S. and nations around the globe "through both legal and illegal means," and warned that the collection is expected to be used for China’s economic and national security priorities.
The collection efforts come as part of China’s efforts to advance its artificial intelligence and precision medicine industries.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has called for a “new approach” to national security to “strengthen” the United States’ advantages and “prevail in strategic competition with China,” warning that Beijing is the “only competitor” potentially capable of mounting a “challenge” to the international system.
In guidance release by the White House earlier this month for its national security strategy with regard to China, the administration said it will "ensure that America, not China, sets the international agenda, working alongside others to shape new global norms and agreements that advance our interests and reflect our values.”
The guidance warned, though, that China’s leaders "seek unfair advantages, behave aggressively and coercively, and undermine the rules and values at the heart of an open and stable international system.”
"When the Chinese government’s behavior directly threatens our interests and values, we will answer Beijing’s challenge," the guidance warned. "We will confront unfair and illegal trade practices, cyber theft, and coercive economic practices that hurt American workers, undercut our advanced and emerging technologies, and seek to erode our strategic advantage and national competitiveness.”
The new guidance added that the administration will "ensure that our supply chains for critical national security technologies and medical supplies are secure.”
However, the administration said that strategic competition with China "does not and should not" preclude working with Beijing "when it is in our national interest to do so.”
The administration said they will "engage China from a position of confidence and strength," and conduct "practical, results-oriented diplomacy" with Beijing to "work to reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation.”
"We will welcome the Chinese government’s cooperation on issues such as climate change, global health security, arms control, and nonproliferation where our national fates are intertwined," the guidance states. "As we do, we will rally our allies and partners to join us, pooling our negotiating leverage and showing our collective power and resolve."