The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the Pentagon is compiling a list of companies with links to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or Chinese intelligence services in order to protect U.S. military secrets and secure America’s supply of military equipment.
The FT article noted one of the most difficult supply lines to protect involves semiconductors, which have countless military applications. Ensuring that these semiconductors cannot be tainted, or the supply choked off at a crucial moment by a hostile China, is extremely difficult.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told the FT that China’s Communist Party “relies on companies under its influence to steal technology abroad, particularly from the U.S.”
“Americans deserve to know if PLA-directed companies are operating in the U.S. and threatening our national security,” he argued.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) likewise said it was critical for American businesses and investors to know if they are dealing with companies involved in Beijing’s “espionage, human rights abuses, and ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial policy.” The latter is a full-spectrum Chinese effort to become the world leader in several key technologies by 2025.
Pentagon officials warned last month that the United States is in serious danger of losing the edge on artificial intelligence (AI) technology to China because Chinese corporations are working closely with the PLA, while top U.S. companies like Google refuse to develop such relationships with the American military.
Also, the Chinese have none of the Western world’s scruples about privacy, so they can amass gigantic databases of personal information to feed their AI programs much faster and have few compunctions about testing new AI systems on human subjects.
U.S. defense officials are also worried the Chinese will pull ahead on developing cloud computing systems that can greatly increase the speed of data accumulation and processing for military purposes.