The Chinese government is militarizing sensitive U.S. technology and research that it stole from American institutions in recent years, according to the State Department.
"The People's Republic of China for a number of years now has very deliberately been targeting sensitive technologies in the United States," a senior State Department official told reporters in a briefing. "These technologies have been put to the use of modernizing China’s military to the detriment of our national security and that of our friends and allies."
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The disclosure comes on the heels of the Trump administration's decision to limit visas to Chinese researchers and students the government suspects are spies for the Communist Party. Visas for nonimmigrant students and researchers from China will be reduced as part of the administration’s new policy.
China's theft of proprietary U.S. technology and research data has been taking place for years. The communist regime sends researchers to the United States and other Western nations so that they can intercept research and other materials that will boost the country's military apparatus.
"China has either coopted or coerced a small number of academics and researchers who have come to the United States and other countries where they have engaged in activities that have given them access—taking full advantage of our open academic and research environment—to sensitive technologies," according to the senior State Department official, who spoke to reporters only on background.
"And they've done so without revealing in these small number of cases their ties to China's security apparatus," the official added. "Thus whether they have been actually stealing technology per se or merely diverting it, they have nonetheless, under less than completely honest pretenses, been a channel for taking this technology back to China for nefarious purposes."
Around 370,000 Chinese students per year come to the United States on student visas, according to the Institute for International Education. The State Department maintains its new policy will only impact a small percentage of these individuals.