Bipartisan congressional report warns of escalating Chinese national security threat to the U.S.

November 14, 2018 GMT

China continues to threaten U.S. national security in multiple ways including military expansion across the Indo-Pacific region, undermining sanctions on North Korea and potentially compromising the global technology supply chain, according to an annual report by a bipartisan congressional panel.

“U.S. firms and the U.S. government rely on global supply chains that in many cases are dominated by China,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said in a report released on Wednesday. “While not all products designed, manufactured or assembled in China are inherently risky, the U.S. government lacks essential tools to conduct rigorous supply chain risk assessments.”


Since its creation by Congress almost two decades ago, the hawkish USCC, which includes analysis of China’s economic and military rise from security and economic experts and recommended counter-actions such as trade sanctions, has generally had limited influence.

But observers have noted that this year’s report comes amid a far more assertive Trump administration stance toward China led by the massive tit-for-tat tariff war between Washington and Beijing that has subjected hundreds of billions of dollars of imported goods to import duties.

Recent months have also seen President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence call out the world’s most populous country for espionage efforts against the U.S., in addition to chastising Beijing for attempting to influence U.S. public opinion.

With frustrations mounting for years over what was generally seen as lax U.S. policy toward China, many American firms have privately applauded the Trump administration’s more aggressive actions and tone.

Additional USCC findings and recommendations include beefing up protections for U.S. intellectual property, which addresses a long-standing complaint that China rampantly steals U.S. innovation and technology instead of spending its own money on research and design.

Specifically, the USCC suggests analysts explore whether “Chinese state-owned enterprises or the military are benefiting from U.S. taxpayer-funded research [and] investigate if any Chinese researchers participating in the collaboration have ties to the Chinese government or military.”

Other recommendations include a proposal that the Trump administration consider launching a World Trade Organization complaint against Beijing over industrial policies benefiting Chinese companies; more investigation into the possible long-term impact of China’s military presence along an economic corridor that Beijing is attempting to build through Asia known as “the Belt and Road Initiative”; and a deeper look into the role of China’s coast guard in the low-level conflict between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea.