Analysis & Opinions - Newsweek

China Is Hacking Coronavirus Research and Federal Agencies Can't Stop Them

| May 22, 2020

Excerpt from Newsweek article with comments from Christopher Li

In this Newsweek article about China's hacking of coronavirus research from American universities and laboratories, co-authors Tom O'Connor and Naveed Jamali  write: "China is stepping up efforts to hack the critical coronavirus research conducted by American universities and laboratories in the private sector because the information is not classified and federal authorities can't do anything to protect it, national security experts and legislators told Newsweek."


"Many universities, for example, value their independence from the federal agencies that oversee classification measures, because it allows for a separation that fuels U.S. enterprise and knowledge. Christopher Li, a researcher at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said the openness of American universities also bolsters the country's innovation.

But this strength also presents a major weakness, he argued.

'As numerous U.S. government agencies have publicly stated, the People's Republic of China is one of the world's most sophisticated cyber actors—and has employed cyber tools as well as non-traditional methods to acquire U.S. technology through theft and coercion,' Li told Newsweek.

'To be sure, all nations engage in espionage—but the U.S. and many of our allies draw a distinction between espionage for military and national security purposes and the theft of commercial intellectual property from the private sector or academic institutions for the economic benefit of a country's domestic industries,' he added. 'Illicit behavior by the Chinese government, however, suggests that it does not.'

Li, however, also extolled the spirit of international cooperation among the academic community and with scholars from China who continue to pioneer in the sciences. And while Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, described China's attempts at intellectual property theft at private entities as a 'real problem' that warrants a greater level of security and awareness for such facilities, he said that the onus is on the host country to shield its most valued assets.

"It's considered that if you can't protect what you have, you don't deserve to have it," Blunt told Newsweek."

  – Via the original publication source.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:China Is Hacking Coronavirus Research and Federal Agencies Can't Stop Them.” Newsweek, May 22, 2020.