CRF Blog

Chinese Corporate Espionage

by Bill Hayes

In Inside the Chinese Boom in Corporate Espionage, Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover story reports on the extent of Chinese spying.

There have been a large number of corporate spying cases involving China recently, and they are coming to light as President Barack Obama and the U.S., along with Japan and the European Union, have filed a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization over China’s unfair trading practices. The complaint includes the hoarding of rare earths, the metals required for the manufacture of other green energy technologies such as batteries for hybrid vehicles.

In November, 14 U.S. intelligence agencies issued a report describing a far-reaching industrial espionage campaign by Chinese spy agencies. This campaign has been in the works for years and targets a swath of industries: biotechnology, telecommunications, and nanotechnology, as well as clean energy. One U.S. metallurgical company lost technology to China’s hackers that cost $1 billion and 20 years to develop, U.S. officials said last year. An Apple (AAPL) global supply manager pled guilty in 2011 to funneling designs and pricing information to China and other countries; a Ford Motor (F) engineer was sentenced to six years in prison in 2010 for trying to smuggle 4,000 documents, including design specs, to China. Earlier this month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told Congress that China-based hackers had gained access to sensitive files stored on computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. [more]