China was called out in the the Worldwide Threat Assessment, a yearly report by the U.S. intelligence community released at Tuesday’s hearing.
The report was commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, an umbrella organization that coordinates all the U.S. intelligence agencies.
It also reported China is “improving” cyberattack capabilities and its ability to create influence campaigns, including “altering information online, shaping Chinese views and potentially the views of U.S. citizens.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., cited the ODNI report and Huawei cases as cause to move forward with legislation meant to lessen China’s cyber-espionage activities.
Warner warned of consolidation of Chinese Communist Party power under President Xi Jinping, and an economic policy focused on beating the U.S. in areas like artificial intelligence and 5G.
Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., proposed a bill that would create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security. The agency would educate business leaders about “the threats to U.S. national security posed by the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by foreign countries and reliance on foreign products — such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei — that jeopardize the overall security of private sector supply chains.”
Several federal agencies already perform these functions within the U.S. government, including DHS, the FBI, NSA and the Secret Service. It is unclear how the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would interface or include these agencies.