The head of the National Security Agency told a Senate panel Thursday that Chinese officials are behind the theft of U.S. commercial data and regularly access private digital communications and data that flow through China.
Michael S. Rogers, America’s top cybersecurity official, spoke hours before President Obama prepared to sit down at a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Washington Thursday afternoon for a state visit.
During the dinner, and in more formal talks at the White House on Friday, aides said Obama will press U.S. concerns about Chinese-backed intrusions of U.S. computer networks.
U.S. and Chinese officials have met behind closed doors in recent weeks to try to craft an agreement, similar to an arms control deal, that sets limits on cyberattacks from each country.
“We have been very up front,” Rogers told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We cannot sustain a long term relationship” if China continues unrestrained cybertheft of U.S. intellectual property.
U.S. intelligence officials believe hackers based in China have stolen U.S. security clearance files on more than 20 million Americans, as well as vast troves of health insurance and banking data, since 2014.
On Wednesday, the Office of Personnel Management said hackers also stole 5.6 million fingerprint records collected as part of background checks for sensitive government jobs, including intelligence, law enforcement, military service and the judiciary.
In response to questions from lawmakers, Rogers said China’s government actively encouraged and sometimes directed theft of U.S. commercial and trade data as well as government secrets.
Chinese officials use government spying systems to collect purely economic intelligence that can help Chinese companies. The U.S. government says it does not share foreign intelligence with American companies.
SOURCE: BRIAN BENNETT
The Los Angeles Times