The United States and China are locked in a competition over technology that will ultimately determine who controls the world — and the U.S. is at risk of losing, a panel of experts at the Conservative Political Action Conference warned on Thursday.
“The United States and China are involved in a cold tech war and the winner dominates the 21st century,” said Gordon Chang, China expert and author. “A decade ago, China was not considered a tech contender, but now it is a leader. The United States is behind in critical areas.”
The experts said China is currently trying to vacuum up all the data they can around the world, to improve their technological systems and control people.
The Heritage Foundation’s Jim Carafano noted the 2017 National Intelligence Law allows the Chinese government to access any data owned by a Chinese firm.
“There is a law in China that basically says if you are a Chinese company, any data that you own, we have access to,” he said.
“The Chinese are literally going to vacuum up all the data in the world. They will use that data to control the world,” he added. “Data is the new nuclear weapon, and China will not be satisfied until they are the lone superpower.”
Chang noted that the data will also improve China’s artificial intelligence capabilities. “AI runs on data, the more data you have the better your platform is,” Chang said.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) warned that while China is using “any means” to collect data, it has no privacy standards when it comes to protecting personal data from the government. “We have to win,” she said. “We have to win this future.”
Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said China opens joint ventures with American companies or invests in them as minority stakeholders to gain access to data and technology, and that the U.S. should use the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review process to block that.
He warned that CFIUS consists of presidentially-appointed cabinet members so if a socialist wins the White House in 2020, “You can imagine an entirely different outcome.”
He said he would recommend to the administration to continue eliminating Chinese technology from technological backbones such as 5G networks, and that Congress do more to protect personally identifiable information, or PII.
“This is where Congress [needs] to regulate for the next 20 years,” he said. “I see a new Second Amendment for digital information to protect us from the tyranny of government as well.”
Carafano warned that allies need to protect themselves from relying on Chinese-built 5G networks as well. “If you let these people into your system, you will lose,” he said.
He predicted that the United Kingdom’s decision to allow Chinese firm Huawei to build their 5G networks would be reversed. He said Huawei lied to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Americans agreed that interference from the Chinese government could be mitigated.
“We cannot mitigate against this threat,” Carafano said.
He added that Americans should delete the popular social media app TikTok from their phones. “If you have TikTok on your phone, delete it right now. If you have TikTok on your phone, you’re one of 120 million Americans who are spying for the Chinese,” he said.
Carafano also warned that if the U.S. succeeded in getting allies to reject Huawei and Chinese firms from building their 5G networks, the fight will not be over. “It’s like if we get the guys at the beach of Normandy we’re done,” he quipped.
Whittaker cited former President Ronald Reagan’s famous saying, “As government expands, liberty contracts.”
“We have to remember [that] it takes one generation to lose all of this,” he warned.