China has accelerated its cyberespionage efforts after a hiatus that began in 2015 when then President Obama struck an agreement to end China’s practice of cyberespionage attacks against American firms, military contractors and government agencies to steal designs, technology and corporate secrets, usually on behalf of China’s state-owned firm.
Officials debate the cause for the spike in activity but noted China’s cyberespionage activities significantly increased soon after President Trump took office, according to the New York Times.
Speculations on the cause for the recommencing of attacks revolve mostly around worsening trade relationships between the U.S. and China causing China to steal what it can’t by in critical industries.
The nature of China’s cyberespionage has also change in recent times with the country now using stealthier operatives in the country’s intelligence agencies rather than People’s Liberation Army hackers. The focus has also increased on the U.S. commercial and industrial abilities and on technologies that China believes will give it a military advantage.
The Trump administration has often suggested that all technology Chinese technology acquisition efforts amount to theft and in doing so they are blurring the line between stealing technology and negotiated deals in which corporations agree to transfer technology to Chinese manufacturing or marketing partners in return for access to China’s market.