Several Republican senators are pressing the Biden Justice Department over why a program set up to catch Chinese spies has been canceled.
At the same time, they are demanding to know how the DoJ will now deal with interdicting Chinese espionage on American soil, Just the News .
The outlet notes:
Led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the lawmakers penned a letter to Garland last week inquiring about the recent termination of the so-called China Initiative, which was launched by the Trump administration in 2018 to preserve America’s technological edge.
The program was specifically designed to identify and prosecute those engaged in hacking, stealing trade secrets, and conducting economic espionage for the Chinese government inside the U.S.
“On Feb. 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it was effectively ending the China Initiative and implementing a new ‘Strategy for Countering Nation-State Threats,’ which will subsume the China Initiative’s work in addition to efforts related to countries such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” the lawmakers wrote last week.
In announcing the termination of the China Initiative, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division claimed that though China “stands apart” as a “brazen” threat to espionage, a “broader approach” is required to deal with threats from a “variety” of nations, calling the effort a “strategy for countering nation-state threats.”
The GOP senators “expressed concern that the new approach is ill-defined and therefore may not be effective at specifically combating nefarious activities conducted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Just the News reported.
“In light of the continuing national security threat posed by the CCP, and the lack of clarity surrounding DOJ’s new ‘Strategy for Countering Nation-State Threats,’ we write seeking clarity with respect to the changes in DOJ’s approach,” the senators wrote.
“Specifically, its enforcement efforts to counter espionage and other illicit activities conducted by the CCP,” the letter added.
Mike Orlando, acting director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that Chinese espionage costs the U.S. between $200 billion and $600 billion annually in stolen technology and data.
The China Initiative had led to a number of high-profile arrests and convictions, including that of Charles Lieber, a renowned nanotechnology professor who chaired Harvard’s Chemistry Department. He was found guilty of lying to government authorities about multiple links to Beijing.
“However, the Justice Department ended the program, admittedly bowing to pressure from a loose coalition of lawmakers, nonprofits, and academics who argued the initiative targeted people of Asian descent with racial profiling,” Just the News reported.