It takes a lot to make China’s Communist Party sweat, but Beijing is seriously concerned with the Trump administration’s aggressive stance against its long-standing spying operations and theft of intellectual property and consumer data. In a clear indication of just how worried the Chinese government is, just last week it outlined what it dubbed a “Global Initiative on Data Security” in hopes of gaining allies to alleviate some of the pressure from Washington.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly stated that the purpose of the initiative is to debunk the “groundless accusations” of a “certain country.” This is typical Chinese legerdemain — issue a document full of flowery rhetoric but devoid of substance, as a smokescreen to camouflage what it is doing in fact.
China’s theft of U.S. data was first elevated to the national spotlight in the late 1990s while I was serving in the U.S. House. In response to eyebrow-raising reports and testimony, we voted in 1998 to create a special task force investigating whether China was illicitly obtaining data on U.S. missile and weapons technology. The resulting “Cox Report” confirmed our worst fears; through decades of calculated intelligence operations, China had stolen design information on some