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Attorney General Barr highlights efforts against China-related espionage in Grand Rapids speech

Posted at 10:52 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 13:08:09-04

U.S. Attorney General William Barr released new details on the Department of Justice's China Initiative during a speech Thursday at the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

According to the Attorney General, about 80 percent of all economic espionage cases prosecuted by the Department of Justice claim that the alleged conduct would benefit China. In cases where trade secrets are stolen, about 60 percent have some connection to China, says Barr.

Since 2018, the DOJ has been focuses on cases involving the theft of trade secrets, hacking, and economic espionage against U.S. corporations. In that time, more than 48 individuals have been charged with helping send resources and information to China.

To see a list of cases, click here.

Barr spoke on China's rising influence in the world and the threat he says that poses.

“China is no longer hiding its strength, nor biding its time," Barr said. "From the perspective of its communist rulers, China’s time has arrived.”

Efforts like currency manipulation, tariffs, cyber attacks, industrial espionage, artificial island-building and harassing fishing boats in the South China Sea have all challenge the U.S. and other countries' leadership roles in the world, according to Barr.

“The PRC seeks not merely to join the ranks of other advanced economies, but to replace them altogether,” Barr said.

Barr says that China's efforts aren't the only problem.

U.S. businesses and tech companies have also helped China.

For example, Hollywood will often censor or change aspects of its films to match them more closely with Chinese beliefs so that they won't alienate the market. Barr gave the example of 2013's "World War Z," which initially had its zombie virus originate in China until filmmakers changed that detail to avoid upsetting the country.

And corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate with the CCP, Barr said.

For example, Barr said, Apple recently removed the news app Quartz from its app store in China, after the Chinese government complained about coverage of the Hong Kong democracy protests.

During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, China "hoarded" personal protective equipment (PPE) for itself, blocking exportation of masks to other countries that needed them, Barr said. They also instructed Chinese hospitals to only buy products made in the country.

As China's manufacturing output continues to exceed that of the U.S., Barr says the pubic and private sectors will need to work together to resist.

"If we rekindle our love and devotion for our country and each other, I am confident that we—the American people, American government and American business together—can do it again," Barr said. "Our freedom depends on it."

Watch the speech: