A House Republican resolution introduced Tuesday condemns Chinese cyberattacks on U.S. organizations conducting coronavirus research and calls for consequences, including sanctions, against those responsible.
The resolution, introduced by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., condemns “in harshest terms the cyberattacks perpetrated against those American persons and organizations engaged in COVID-19 research.”
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It calls on the administration to respond with punishments, “including the implementation of sanctions against those foreign persons engaged in such acts at the behest of the [People’s Republic of China].”
The resolution directly cites a May 13 announcement by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that accused China of attacks even as the U.S. sought to combat the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
The public service announcement issued by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said that it was investigating the targeting of research by China-affiliated cyber actors and “non-traditional collectors.”
“These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research,” the advisory said. “The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options.”
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There has been a growing effort by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to crack down on Beijing in the wake of the pandemic.
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Trump announced last month that the U.S. was pulling out of the World Health Organization over Chinese influence in the body, and that he would sign a proclamation securing university research and to “suspend the entry of certain foreign nationals from China who we have identified as a potential security risk.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans set up a China task force to set priorities, gather information and coordinate approaches to the threat coming from China.