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Pentagon Sees China as a Threat to US Industry and National Security - Reports

© AP PhotoThis is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975
This is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975 - Sputnik International
Two Pentagon-sponsored pieces of research have reported China as a growing threat to US defense, targeting the country's national security through the supply of materials and new informational warfare capabilities.

A 150-page report, seen by Reuters on Thursday a day before its official publication, revealed there are about 300 vulnerabilities that could affect components and materials essential to the US military and recommended direct investment in critical sectors of American industry. The specific plans were listed in an appendix that remains classified.

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China was listed as the country dominating the global supply of rare earth minerals critical for US military applications, as well as electronics and chemicals used in US munitions.

“A key finding of this report is that China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to US national security,” the report said.

The report noted that 90% of the world’s printed circuit boards are produced in Asia, with over half produced in China alone, making it possible for Beijing to cut off the supply of the materials or to sabotage the technology. 

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“With the migration of advanced board manufacturing offshore, (the Department of Defense) risks losing visibility into the manufacturing provenance of its products,” the report said, noting that the Pentagon has been cautious about “kill switches” in transistors that could turn off sensitive US systems during conflicts, and “‘Trojan’ chips and viruses infiltrating US defense systems.” It had also discussed "unfair and unlawful Chinese efforts to undermine US industry" through a host of strategies, including by subsidizing exports at artificially low prices and stealing US technology.

The report also examined the US shortcomings that contributed to the weakening of domestic industry, including roller-coaster US defense budgets and lack of proper science and technology education.

“There have just been market failures here. And so we can create new incentives to drive investment in areas to help diversify ourselves,” said Eric Chewning, a deputy assistant secretary of defense who oversees industrial base policy.

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Another report, cited by the Washington Free Beacon and released this week by the National Defense University talks about China’s new Strategic Support Force. The force, according to the report, combined several People's Liberation Army (PLA) advanced warfare and intelligence capabilities into a single unit in order to achieve a combined space, cyber, information warfare capabilities and intelligence and espionage forces.

The 84-page report, co-authored by former National Security Agency China specialist John Costello and cybersecurity expert Joe McReynolds, calls the new Chinese unit the Strategic Support Force (SSF) and says that it “views cyber, electronic, and psychological warfare as interconnected subcomponents of information warfare writ large.” 

The study suggests that the SSF would seek “the power to control perceptions and shape narratives that advance Chinese interests and undermine those of an opponent.”

Both reports followed Vice President Mike Pence’s accusations against China on Thursday that Beijing was trying to undermine US President Donald Trump ahead of the midterm elections on November 6 by, “meddling in America’s democracy.” China has denied the allegations.

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