When American intelligence agencies look into the future

When American intelligence agencies look into the future

23. Oktober 2021 0 Von Horst Buchwald

When American intelligence agencies look into the future

Washington, Oct. 23, 2021

U.S. intelligence officials have warned American technology companies against collaborating with China in the following five areas: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, life sciences, semiconductors and autonomous systems … These sectors would “ potentially have the most at stake for U.S. economic and national security,“ the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre (NCSC) said in a new paper.

Intelligence officials fear that the U.S. could be completely displaced from these sectors, which are critical to the future. American companies, academics and research communities need to be more vigilant about protecting talent and research from threats by nation-states that are using legal and illegal means to acquire American know-how to master these technologies, according to the NCSC, a center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Edward You, National Counterintelligence Officer for Emerging and Disruptive Technologies at the NCSC, said it’s not just about the loss of intellectual property, but the loss of an entire business model.

The U.S. private sector has long been caught in the middle of U.S.-China technological competition, struggling to balance its economic interests in doing business with the world’s second-largest economy and the need to protect U.S. technologies. Washington is increasingly concerned about the national security threat these business relationships could pose.

The intelligence community, which assesses technological threats from foreign countries each year, has warned companies and academics about these risks from China. The report released Thursday was the latest push by the community to draw more attention to these threats.

The report said China has set a goal of becoming the leader in new technologies by 2030, and the government has used a wide range of methods to acquire advanced technologies – including through espionage, direct investment in U.S. technologies, academic collaboration, joint ventures and acquisitions.

U.S. companies and academics need to understand who they are doing business with by looking at the background of their suppliers, partners and investors, the report adds. American companies should also be aware that all companies in China are required by law to disclose information to the government upon request.

Companies should guard against theft inside and outside the company through espionage and cyberattacks, the report said.

The NCSC pointed to security risks associated with plans to recruit foreign talent, such as China’s Thousand Talents Plan to attract foreign tech talent. The report also outlines best practices to protect against cyberattacks on personal devices, potential risks from social media interactions, and potential hacking risks when traveling to a foreign country.


The report highlights competition for artificial intelligence (AI) talent, noting that China „has the power, talent and ambition to replace the U.S. as the world leader in AI in the next decade if current trends do not change.“

Health technology, You said, is a vulnerable area. Chinese genomics company BGI, for example, acquired U.S. genetic research firm Complete Genomics in 2013 and worked with the Chinese military to develop a genetic test for newborns that has allowed it to collect data from around the world.

They also said another Chinese company, WuXi Biologics, has bought Bayer’s manufacturing plant in Germany, Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in China and CMAB Biopharma Group in China.

Because of China’s global strategic investment in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, U.S. bioscience companies producing vaccines and other biotech products may be able to use Chinese-controlled facilities by default, You said.