The head of U.S. counterintelligence operations says he is skeptical China is upholding its end of an agreement to halt hacks on U.S. companies
National Counterintelligence Executive Bill Evanina told a briefing on Wednesday that he has seen “no indication” in the private sector "that anything has changed" pertaining to corporate espionage originating in Beijing, according to Reuters.
He accused Beijing of stealing technology from industries ranging from wind and solar power generation and hydraulic and oil fracking to drone aircraft.
Evanina’s comments come less than a month before U.S. and Chinese officials are scheduled to hold their first ministerial-level dialogue on cybersecurity since striking the anti-hacking pledge in September.
That agreement stipulates that neither country shall conduct or support the online theft of intellectual property and other trade secrets.
Skeptics have said the pact is toothless and will do nothing to curb widespread Chinese pilfering, which some estimate costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Recent reports from some security firms suggest that China has already broken the agreement, although policy experts caution that it may take some time for Beijing to unwind its expansive espionage apparatus.
Chinese government officials told a visiting delegation of House Democrats last week that they are committed to enforcing the agreement, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told The Hill.
“I believe that this agreement will, in fact, be enforced,” said Lieu, a computer science major who has become a prominent cybersecurity voice on Capitol Hill since his election last November.
“As China continues to get its own intellectual property and acquire its own inventions, it understands the importance of protecting its own businesses from cyber theft,” he said.
The White House has reserved the right to issue economic sanctions against China if it feels Beijing is flouting the agreement.
“What I’ve said to President Xi and what I say to the American people, the question now is: Are words followed by actions?” President Obama said when the agreement was announced.
“We will be watching carefully to make an assessment as to whether progress has been made in this area.”