September 12, 2019 / 8:52 PM / 8 days ago

U.S. lawmakers ask Pentagon for list of Chinese companies to curb 'economic espionage'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers asked the Pentagon on Thursday to name companies owned by the Chinese military operating in the United States, as they seek to curb what they called Beijing’s effort to “steal” technology for military purposes.

Companies owned by the Chinese government “acquire American firms to transfer proprietary information,” among other tactics, according to the letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. It was written by Democratic and Republican senators and representatives, including U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

A Chinese embassy spokesperson called the accusations “groundless” and of a “cold-war mentality,” and said China’s strategy aims to integrate defence and economic sectors.

A Pentagon report in 2018 said China dominates the global supply of rare earth minerals critical to U.S. military operations, as well as supplies of electronics and chemicals.

“China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security,” the report said.

The lawmakers asked the Pentagon to compile a list of companies owned by the Chinese military operating in the United States, citing a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 1999.

The lawmakers requested the public release of an updated list “as soon as possible” to “combat China’s economic espionage in the United States.”

Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Richard Chang

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