US Senate intel committee warns of China's threats in tech sector

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Some US senators are warning of what they describe as threats posed by China in the technologial sector.

The Senate Intelligence Committee repeted Washington's claims about such threats ahead of this week’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ministerial meeting.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken,  committee chairman Mark Warner cited "national security of democratic nations."  

“I urge you to use the OECD’s upcoming ministerial meeting on October 5-6, 2021 to work to establish rules and norms around strategic technology issues, including development and governance strategies and best practices for communications applications, AI-enabled products and services, next-generation networks, Internet of Things devices, blockchain and fintech products, and renewable energies,” Warner wrote to Blinken. “These technologies and their associated standards and norms are being developed now across various markets and international standards-setting organizations, with immediate repercussions for the economic competitiveness and national security of democratic nations."

Relations between the US and China have been marked by heightened tensions in recent years, with clashes on issues like trade, the pandemic, and regional interference.

“Many countries have woken up to the risks of having a PRC-linked entity serve as the telecommunications infrastructure for their citizens and the risks of PRC access to the security and integrity of their citizens’ data and communications,” Warner claimed. “These risks extend to other next-generation technologies that rely on, and transmit, sensitive data and communications.”

Beijing has not yet responded to the latest allegations by the Senate intelligence committee.

The two countries have been locked in a trade dispute since 2018, when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on more than $360bn of Chinese goods, and China retaliated with tariffs on more than $110bn of US products.

The rivalry between the US and China has intensified in recent years with Beijing’s growing international clout and rapid economic progress, emerging as a viable counter-weight to the US.

China hoped for an improvement in relations under President Joe Biden, who succeeded Donald Trump in January, but the new administration has shown no sign of backing down on hardline policies toward China.

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