NSA head: China still spying on US companies

NSA head: China still spying on US companies
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Chinese cyber spies are still conducting espionage on American companies, Adm. Michael Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

But the NSA director said the U.S. has not determined if Beijing is still using that intelligence to help boost its domestic private industry, in potential violation of an agreement reached last year with the White House.

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“The question or issue we’ve always had with the Chinese,” Rogers said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, is whether they are using routine espionage activities “to generate economic advantage.”

That is “not something that’s acceptable to the U.S.,” Rogers added.

Last September, China reached a pact with the U.S. to end this type of commercial espionage for profit.

But the Obama administration has not yet said whether China is complying with the agreement, which was seen as a critical first step to normalizing tense cyber relations with China.

Rogers’s remarks came in response to a question from Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJames Taylor to perform at awards ceremony for Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week Conservative activist wins contest to represent New Hampshire at Republican National Convention Schiff shows clip of McCain in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Ariz.).

“How has China’s behavior evolved since the [Office of Personnel Management] breach?” he asked, referencing last summer’s massive hacks at the OPM, which are believed to be the effort of Chinese cyber spies.

“We continue to see them engage in activity directed against U.S. companies,” Rogers replied. “The question I think we still need to ask is, is that activity then in turn then shared with the Chinese private industry?”

For years, intelligence officials and American companies have accused China of orchestrating an extensive cyber campaign to steal corporate secrets and pass along the information to local competitors.

By some estimates, China’s efforts have cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

President Obama negotiated a deal to end this behavior during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Washington in September.

The high-level summit came just months after U.S. officials privately blamed China for the OPM hacks, which exposed the personal information of more than 20 million people.