Leading Republican lawmakers are pressing the Trump administration to issue new sanctions on China for its attempts to hack proprietary information from the United States about the coronavirus and possible vaccines being developed.
Reps. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), Greg Walden (R., Ore.), and Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.) petitioned the Trump administration on Monday to provide them with a classified briefing detailing the "scope, number, and success rates" of Chinese-sponsored hack attacks on America. They are also seeking information on whether the Treasury Department is working on sanctions that would target these state-backed hackers.
The lawmakers accuse past administrations of failing to take action against Chinese hackers as part of a bid to foster closer relations with the communist government. "By decades of not taking principled stands or enforcing violations of commitments, the United States has allowed the CCP to proceed down another path, which threatens U.S. and global security," they wrote in a letter sent to the White House.
Recent reports indicate that Chinese government-backed hackers have stepped up their attacks on the U.S. government and medical research institutions that are working on vaccines for the coronavirus.
The lawmakers argue that new sanctions are needed to send a message to China that these hacks will not be tolerated. The Treasury Department, they said, has failed to take adequate action in recent years.
"Treasury has not sufficiently imposed such sanctions on PRC actors for cyber attacks on Americans or those entities in the PRC that benefit from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, but we believe that time may be ripe for considering such action," the letter said.
The lawmakers warn that these attacks will continue to increase until the United States takes concrete action.