Ruppersberger, Himes, Conaway, Hurd Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fight Digital Threats From China, Others

January 17, 2019
In The News

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 -- Rep. C.A. 'Dutch' Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, issued the following news release:

Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Jim Himes (D-CT), Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Will Hurd (R-TX) today introduced bipartisan legislation that will toughen the United States' position against national security threats posed by technology competitors like China.

The bill will create a new office within the White House that will serve as a central coordinator to combat the assault on American innovation which threatens our national security. The executive-level Office of Critical Technologies & Security will be tasked with interagency coordination and creating a long-term strategic plan to combat state-sponsored technology theft and supply chain vulnerabilities.

China's state-directed and state-supported efforts to achieve economic dominance by stealing intellectual property from American businesses are well-documented. Meanwhile, the over-reliance of Americans on foreign products that have been identified as national secure risks - such as cell phones made by Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE - creates major supply chain risks.

"We can't be too tough when it comes to our national security," Congressman Ruppersberger said. "We have long suspected Beijing uses its telecom companies to spy on Americans and we know China is responsible for up to $600 billion in theft of U.S. trade secrets. It's time to get our ducks in a row: we need a coordinated, dedicated team armed with a long-term plan to ensure America maintains superiority."

"Passivity in the face of increased global threats would be a grave mistake," said Congressman Himes. "Through the establishment of this office, we will not only increase our capacity to respond to Chinese aggression, but also signal to geopolitical rivals around the world that we will fiercely defend our national security, technology and intellectual property. This step is long overdue and will hopefully move us further toward a comprehensive cyber strategy."

"Chinese telecommunications giants, such as Huawei and ZTE, have well established ties to the Chinese Communist Party and a long history of providing a vehicle for the Chinese government to spy on American citizens and our federal government," said Congressman Conaway. "It's critical that we respond to these rising national security threats aggressively, and utilize whatever tools we have available to prevent foreign entities from harming our country."

"China's coordinated assault on American companies, the U.S. government and American intellectual property is part of a broader strategy aimed at attaining leadership in advanced technology and 21st century great power politics. We must continue to hold bad actors accountable," said Congressman Will Hurd, who spent nearly a decade fighting to secure our homeland as an undercover officer in the CIA. "I am proud to join my colleagues today to introduce this bipartisan bill that ensures that our nation uses every tool in our arsenal to combat this continued national security threat and keep Americans safe."

The Office of Critical Technologies & Security will consult with federal regulators, the private sector, academics and experts to make sure every available tool is being used to protect the supply chain and emerging technologies.

Ruppersberger, a former Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, has been warning American companies against doing business with companies like Huawei and ZTE for years. With access to telecommunications equipment--including the cellphones and tablets that are indispensable to modern life--China can spy on all Americans. If the U.S. were ever to go to war with China, Beijing could theoretically disable American cellphones, or take control of American computer networks.

The legislation is the House companion to a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

For a copy of the bill text, click here (https://ruppersberger.house.gov/sites/ruppersberger.house.gov/files/RUPPER_003_xml.pdf).