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Global Economy

Spy hunting with side effects

News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's media group, informed the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week that the company had been hacked. A security firm concluded that it was espionage and related to China. The confrontation between the People's Republic and the USA has increased in recent weeks. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a presentation that more than 2,000 investigations by his agency would deal solely with the defense against threats from China: "No country poses a greater threat to our ideas, our inventions and our economic security than China", according to the FBI chief. Investigators could start a new investigation almost every twelve hours.

Government and companies together against espionage

James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington believes that China's hackers and spies are interested in everything. Years ago, a group from the Chinese army stole DuPont's white paint composition, Lewis says. "Xi Jinping got things under control," said the security expert. "The actions are now more closely aligned with China's strategic goals, i.e. energy supply, microelectronics, engines, quantum computers, artificial intelligence and space travel."

US companies that have fallen victim to cybercriminals have often tried to avoid making headlines in the past. Now you have to correct the mistakes of the past 20 years, says Lewis. For example, through rapid collaboration between government and business: "The Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative has worked very well in some cases. The initiative builds on the opportunity to have real collaboration with the private sector," explains Lewis. The general call for the exchange of information is a cliché – but: "In these cases there were real tactical clues as to how to react."

Accusation of "racial profiling"

The US Department of Justice also launched the "China Initiative" in 2018. However, this hunt for spies has become a tool to terrorize Chinese scientists and engineers in the United States, says Judy Chu, a member of the Democratic Party in California.

Attorney General Merrick Garland had denied the allegation that it was ethnic profiling: "We neither investigate nor bring charges on the basis of ethnicity, nor what country someone comes from or their family." Nevertheless, Garland had to promise to investigate his house's actions. The "New York Times", Bloomberg and the Technology Review of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had reported false suspicions.

climate of fear among scientists

Jenny Lee of the University of Arizona summarized the results of a study among scientists on radio station NPR. Many worried that any connection to China — collaborating on research projects, visiting the People's Republic, receiving funding from China, or jointly analyzing data — posed the risk of potential FBI investigations, the professor said.

And the MIT Technology Review comes to the conclusion that the criminal prosecution to date has created a climate of fear. Talented scientists would be pushed to leave the United States, the warning said. America is jeopardizing its ability to attract new talent in science and technology from China and around the world.

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