Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at reducing Chinese control over technology used by the Department of Defense and its contractors.
The bill would require defense contractors to disclose where they obtained printed circuit boards, which are an essential component of most complex technology. "A disproportionate amount of the printed circuit boards used in the Department of Defense's electronic systems come from China, where they are vulnerable to sabotage by the Chinese government," Hawley's office said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern about Chinese control of important supply chains. Democratic senators Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Tim Kaine (Va.) both called on Biden to lay out a clear policy approach toward China during his Wednesday night speech to Congress.
The Protecting Critical Boards and Electronics Through Transparency and Enduring Reinvestment Act would designate federal funds to support American manufacturing of printed circuit boards. The American printed circuit board manufacturing market is valued at $2.7 billion, a third of what it was 20 years ago. The circuit boards are often designed in the United States but assembled in China, leaving American-made technology vulnerable to Chinese sabotage.
"Chinese printed circuit boards pose a serious threat to the integrity of America's defense systems," said Hawley. "It is imperative that we give the Department of Defense the tools it needs to secure its printed circuit board supply chains, so that our warfighters can have full confidence in the weapons they rely on to protect our nation."
China has a history of mounting cyberattacks against the U.S. government. In March, intelligence officials discovered that Chinese operatives had hacked Microsoft's email software, exposing an array of federal and private records.