By Katie Bo Williams - 01/12/16 09:36 AM EST
Rep. Matt SalmonMatt SalmonLGBT fight dooms spending bill on House floor A hearing brought to tears over Right to Try legislation Time for national Right to Try legislation MORE (R-Az.) has joined a group of lawmakers expressing concerns that China is continuing to misrepresent its behavior in cyberspace.
Citing both federal and private reports that China continues to hack U.S. interests, Salmon insisted that “China's state-sponsored cyberattacks seriously damage U.S. economic and national security.”
The U.S. and China recently reached an agreement in which each nation promised not to conduct or willingly support hacks on one another’s companies — so-called “economic espionage.”
The pact, Salmon said, was “crafted in a way to allow Beijing to use creative interpretation to weasel out of further reprimand from the United States.”
Pressure has been rising on the Obama administration to provide evidence that China is upholding its end of the September pledge.
While the White House has taken a “wait and see” approach to give Beijing time to dismantle its extensive hacking apparatus, some lawmakers are getting impatient.
“We have to verify and hold them accountable,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in December. “I still don’t think China’s been held accountable.”
Salmon also expressed concerns that the U.S. “allowed” China to publicly attest that the massive hack on the Office of Personnel Management was a criminal case, rather than a state-sponsored cyberattack.
U.S. officials have long asserted that the OPM hack — which exposed the personal information of more than 22 million federal employees and others — was traditional intelligence-gathering originating in Beijing.
“Our administration should remain aware of Beijing's intentions to reinterpret reality, and continue to call out China's malicious cyber actions as more than mere criminal activity,” Salmon wrote.
Beijing claims to have arrested the perpetrators of the breach, but no details have been released regarding the hackers' identities, including whether they have any government affiliation.