Rubio: Hacking attacks were 'directed' by China's government

Rubio: Hacking attacks were 'directed' by China's government
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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration MORE (R-Fla.) hammered China for digitally pilfering the corporate secrets of U.S. companies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday.

Rubio, who is running for president, went after Beijing as Chinese President Xi Jinping was arriving in Washington for his first state visit.

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“The Chinese government actively encourages, as part of their national policy, the stealing of American secrets,” the Florida lawmaker said during an exchange with National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Michael Rogers, who was testifying.

This commercial espionage, “is directed, influenced and funded by the Chinese government itself,” added Rubio, who has been gaining ground on his GOP rivals in polling since a well-received performance in the last Republican debate.

“Yes,” Rogers concurred.

American business leaders say a massive Chinese cyber espionage campaign is battering U.S. companies and threatening to erode any competitive edge they have in the global market.

The topic is expected to top the White House’s agenda over a series of informal and formal meetings Thursday and Friday.

But no sweeping advancements are likely, according to both administration officials and outside policy experts.

Rubio theorized that the two sides cannot make headway because Chinese leaders do not see commercial espionage as any different than normal government intelligence gathering.

“Is it fair to say that for the Chinese ... they view commercial intelligence gathering and governmental intelligence gathering as all part of their foreign policy?” he asked Rogers.

“They clearly don’t have the same lines in the sand, if you will,” Rogers responded. “I watch some of my counterparts there do things that under our system you could never do.”

Following up on the topic moments later, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked Rogers to weigh in on China’s recently approved national security law that gives authorities indefinite control to ensure that technologies are “secure and controllable.”

Wouldn’t that be an invitation for Chinese authorities “to potentially get into those companies' databases?” Warner asked.

“The Chinese have a fundamentally different construct than we do,” Rogers replied, explaining that Beijing views it as a “sovereign right” to access people’s communications and data.

“We reject that notion,” he added.

The conflicting approaches have led to a contentious diplomatic relationship, he said.

“We cannot sustain a long-term relationship if this is the approach," Rogers said.