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Chinese spying exposes American tech vulnerabilities

by David Howard
| February 26, 2023 12:00 AM

The Chinese spy balloons that have traversed Montana should serve as a glaring wake up call to all Americans about the increasingly aggressive and adversarial stance the Chinese government is taking against our country. China has made no secret of its plans to supplant the United States as the global superpower and the strides it is making to overtake America in terms of economic might and technological superiority.

We’re in a race against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and it’s one we cannot afford to lose. Fortunately, the United States hold a big advantage over the CCP as the world leader in technological innovation, at least for the time being.

Our economy is bigger and stronger, and our military is more sophisticated. Staying ahead economically and militarily is the key to stopping the CCP worldview from taking over, which means we must maintain our technological edge.

The CCP recognizes this fact as well. They’ve invested heavily in advancing their own technology sector, which has produced clones of American companies, such as TikTok and Huawei. They also employ state-sanctioned cyber-attacks and intellectual property theft to weaken their American competitors.

But most worrying is China’s saber-rattling about Taiwan, the tiny island nation about 100 miles from the Chinese coastline that produces the majority of advanced microchips utilized by the United States and other Western countries.

None of these are idle threats. In fact, the CCP has made it a stated priority to overtake the United States as the world’s technology leader by 2035. It’s part of the legacy Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to leave behind.

Thankfully the centrally planned, state-backed approach China is taking cannot beat the bottom-up, entrepreneurially-driven approach that has long made America the world’s foremost economic and military powerhouse. That is, unless we pursue anti-innovation policies that tie one hand behind our back. Unfortunately, that is exactly what some in Congress would have America do in limiting our technology sector’s ability to drive American innovation forward.

Congress is currently considering proposals to undermine the technology sector by exposing them to new, heavy-handed, and short-sighted regulation that will make it even more difficult to innovate in this country. Weakening our tech sector is the worst thing we could do in a time of increasing CCP aggression.

We are in a technological “arms” race in which our competitor is willing to go to any lengths to increase their chances of gaining the upper hand. Increasing the regulatory burden on our domestic technology companies will only make that race easier for the CCP.

Instead, we should be bolstering America’s advantages, while further cracking down on CCP-sponsored intellectual property theft and cyber-attacks against American companies.

We need to ramp up our military support of Taiwan to protect their micro-chip industry. And at the same time we should be increasing production of American-made chips to reduce our exposure to imported technology. Most of all, we should be clearing out regulatory hurdles that hold our tech companies back.

America will no doubt see more incursions by the CCP against our country. The revelation of their aerial surveillance likely pales in comparison to the mass data collection they’re perpetrating through other applications. It’s time for our country to get serious about the threat posed by the CCP, and that starts with Congress implementing policy that strengthens our technology sector.

David Howard is a former Montana state senator who represented Senate District 29. He lives in Park City.

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