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Chinese officials

U.S., Chinese Officials to Meet Aug. 15, Assess Trade Deal – The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and China have agreed to high-level talks on Aug. 15 to assess Beijing’s compliance with the bilateral trade agreement signed early this year, according to people briefed on the matter.

The trade pact has emerged as one of the few remaining avenues for the two countries to engage on matters of mutual concern. Relations have deteriorated in recent months, with the Trump administration hammering Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong and the treatment of Uighurs in western China.

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Chinese consulates

Ted Cruz: More Chinese consulates could close after China used Houston premises as ‘base for spying’ – Daily Mail

Ted Cruz signaled Sunday that more Chinese consulates could be closed in the U.S. after the Houston base was shuttered last week following revelations of spying on the premises.

‘They may well be closed,’ the Texas senator said when asked about other potential closures.

‘That consulate was closed because it had engaged in espionage, it had engaged in intellectual property theft, they used it as a base for spying in Houston and throughout the Southwest,’ Cruz told CBS News during an interview with Face the Nation host Margaret Brenner Sunday morning.

‘And for a long time I have made the case that China poses the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century,’ he continued.

‘The most significant foreign policy consequence of this pandemic,’ Cruz asserted, ‘is people are understanding the threat China poses.’

Cruz is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has often warned of the threat China poses to the U.S. – including visiting Hong Kong to support protesters standing up to Beijing.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz claimed Washington could shutter more Chinese consulates after the Houston compound ceased operations Friday.’They may well be closed,’ he said of the remaining four consulates 

‘I have made the case that China poses the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century,’ Cruz told CBS host Margaret Brenner Sunday morning, claiming the Houston consulate in particular was a ‘base for spying’

Beijing was told the Houston consulate had until Friday at 4:00 p.m. to cease operations.

That day, officials were seen hammering the door shut after diplomats and employees vacated the property.

Soon after the orders were issued, video emerged of diplomats burning documents in the courtyard of the consulate.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed in a tweet Wednesday morning that ‘China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue.’

The consulate was raided by U.S. officials Friday, shortly after it officially closed for business.

The consulate, which Donald Trump forced to close, was reportedly a hot bed of spies and was allegedly being used to steal medical and scientific research.

On Friday afternoon, hours after the consulate officially closed and diplomats left, a group of men who appeared to be U.S. officials were seen forcing open a back door. 

The back door of the Houston consulate was forced open Friday afternoon by what appeared to be teams of U.S. officials making their way into the empty building

The group of men was seen forcing the doors of the consulate open in Texas just hours after the Chinese employees and diplomats left

A trio of consular vehicles leave the Consulate General of China building late on Friday

The Chinese consulate in Houston closed its doors Friday, after an announcement Wednesday

Small fires were seen being ignited in the courtyard of the building on Tuesday evening

According to a Reuters witness, consulate staff had exited the building shortly after 4pm and left in vehicles. The back door was then forced open.  

Chinese authorities have called on Washington to reverse its decision, and said the closure of the diplomatic office was ‘breaking down the friendship bridge.’

In response, China has now ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu – also within 72 hours.

The U.S. has an embassy in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, Wuhan and Hong Kong.

The Chinese consulate in Houston is one of five in the U.S., not counting the embassy in Washington DC. 

On Tuesday, hours before the Trump administration made public its order to vacate the building, consulate employees were seen starting fires in a courtyard of the Houston building, prompting police officers and firefighters to rush to the area.

Fire crews were prevented from accessing the compound as documents were seen being burned.  

Sources on Wednesday told NBC that the consulate was known as being a center for Chinese spying.

Multiple U.S. officials told the network that the Houston consulate has long been used by the Chinese government to steal valuable medical research, and was involved in attempts to infiltrate the oil and natural gas industries.

They said the consulate is well-fortified, was hardened to prevent U.S. surveillance, and was a high-tech communications hub to coordinate and execute various spying operations.

Fire crews arriving on the scene were told they could not enter to put out the blazes

Mark Warner, Democrat senator for Virginia and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC News’s Katy Tur that he would not discuss the specific intelligence behind Wednesday’s closure. 

‘But I can tell you for the last two years, I and other members of the intel committee have been holding classified briefings with business leaders and academic leaders about the concerted efforts of the Chinese communist party to steal our intellectual property, to steal it from companies, to steal it from universities, to be on better guard,’ he said. 

Warner suggested the action was driven by the FBI and its intelligence.  

The State Department said China was directing ‘massive illegal spying and influence operations.’ 

David R. Stilwell, who oversees policy for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, told The New York Times that the Houston consulate had a history of engaging in ‘subversive behavior’.

China has five consulates in the United States. The Houston one, pictured, closed on Friday

He said the consulate was the epicenter of research theft in the United States.

For instance, Stilwell said, said the consul general, the top Chinese official there, and two other diplomats were recently caught using false identification to escort Chinese travelers to the gate area of a charter flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Stilwell said that some of China’s attempted scientific thefts in the United States had accelerated over the last six months, and could be related to efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus – although he again presented no evidence. 

Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, who has been a leader in aggressively pushing hard-line policies on China, said Wednesday at a news conference in Copenhagen that the Trump administration was ‘setting out clear expectations as to how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave.’ 

He warned that the United States would ‘take actions’ to protect its interests. 

Moving vans were pictured outside the consulate in Houston on Wednesday

Much of the interest in Houston has focused on the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

In April 2019, three out of five scientists identified by federal authorities as being involved in efforts to steal American research on behalf of China at MD Anderson were ousted by the institution. 

A fourth scientist resigned before the conclusion of the investigation, and the fifth was disciplined by the center.  

Trump said during a news conference on Wednesday evening that ‘it’s always possible’ his administration would close more Chinese missions.

The consulate closure marks a further breakdown in relations between the world’s two largest economies, and is a significant shift from just six months ago, when the countries signed a trade deal and Trump boasted that the U.S.-China relationship ‘might be the best it’s been in a long, long time.’

Trump said six months ago that the relationship with China was excellent

Now relations between Trump and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, are at a low

Now, in addition to closing the consulate, the U.S. is also considering a ban on Chinese-owned mobile apps such as Tik Tok, removing Chinese technology from the electrical grid, and sanctioning Communist Party officials over the internment of Muslims and a security law that effectively ends Hong Kong’s independent legal status.

Trump has also cut off additional trade talks and threatened to penalize China because he said ‘they could have stopped’ the pandemic. 

Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman, described the reasons given by the US for closing the consulate as ‘unbelievably ridiculous’.

She urged the U.S. to reverse its ‘erroneous decision’, or China would ‘react with firm countermeasures’.

‘While Chinese diplomats are promoting mutual understanding and friendship, the US embassy in China publicly attacks China’s political system,’ she said.

‘As a result of smears and hatred fanned up by the US government, the Chinese embassy has received bomb and death threats.’

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Chinese officials

US officials raid Chinese consulate in Houston believed to be spy hub – Fox News

U.S. officials pried open the doors of the Chinese consulate in Houston on Friday and took over the building shortly after Chinese officials vacated the facility on orders from the Trump Administration.

Federal officials and local law enforcement surrounded the Houston facility Friday afternoon as the Chinese officials moved out of the building that the Trump Administration contends was a hub of spy activity by the Chinese Communist Party.

Forty minutes after the 4 p.m. eviction deadline passed, U.S. officials broke into a back door of the consulate and a man believed to be a State Department official led the way of the U.S. takeover, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Federal officials and a locksmith pull on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Federal officials and a locksmith pull on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
(Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photographs show federal officials and a locksmith trying to force their way into the vacated Consulate General of China. U.S. officials had tried three other entrances but couldn’t get in. Security teams donning U.S. State Department emblems on their shirts stood guard. The Houston Chronicle reported that the local fire department entered the building, too.

Tuesday night, hours after the Trump Administration announced its directive for the Chinese to vacate, the Houston Fire Department responded to fires at the courtyard of the building — an apparent effort to destroy documents. Chinese officials refused to allow the first responders to enter to put out the fires, Fox 26 in Houston reported.

Federal officials and a locksmith work on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Federal officials and a locksmith work on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

CHINA THREATENS RETALIATION AFTER U.S. CLOSES CONSULATE

All morning Friday, consulate workers were spotted loading up two U-haul trucks and vehicles and tossing trash bags into a nearby Dumpster in an attempt to meet the U.S.’s 4 p.m. eviction deadline, the Chronicle reported.

Consular staff pack items into their vehicles as they vacate the Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Consular staff pack items into their vehicles as they vacate the Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

“We can confirm that the PRC Consulate General in Houston is closed,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News.

After the Chinese officials packed up and left, U.S. teams began to force their way in. After two hours of gaining entry, the government officials loaded into a van and drove away, leaving the Houston Police and security teams behind at the scene, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The U.S. alleged that the consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Police officers install barricades outside the Consulate General of China Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. Workers at China's consulate loaded up moving trucks Friday ahead of an afternoon deadline to shut down the facility, as ordered by the Trump administration. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Police officers install barricades outside the Consulate General of China Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. Workers at China’s consulate loaded up moving trucks Friday ahead of an afternoon deadline to shut down the facility, as ordered by the Trump administration. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

RUBIO: CHINESE CONSULATE IN HOUSTON WAS ‘MASSIVE SPY CENTER’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week called the Houston complex “a hub of spying and IP theft.” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the consulate was a “massive spy center [and] forcing it to close is long overdue.”

China called the allegations “malicious slander” and responded by ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in the western Chinese city of Chengdu.

CHINA ORDERS US TO CLOSE CHENGDU CONSULATE IN APPARENT RETALIATION FOR HOUSTON SHUTDOWN ORDER

U.S. officials were spotted packing up and moving out of the Chengdu consulate Saturday as thousands of people gathered to watch the Americans forced to exit on Beijing’s orders.

Federal officials arrive to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Federal officials arrive to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The South China Morning Post reported that three trucks and a bus were seen entering and leaving the U.S. compound while other workers left on foot with the arms full of boxes and files. Reuters reported the American consulate emblem was taken down and security was tight outside the facility for the moveout in the tit-for-tat consulate closures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Chinese Fugitive

Chinese fugitive taken into custody as US claims Houston consulate was a part of espionage network – CNN

Washington (CNN)Senior US government officials said Friday that a Chinese scientist who had been hiding in the country’s San Francisco consulate after accusations of visa fraud is now in US custody and also charged that Beijing has been using its diplomatic outposts to run an espionage network to steal intellectual property from US businesses, universities and research centers.

Tang Juan, a researcher who said she was focusing on biology, “was a fugitive from justice until last night,” a senior Justice Department official said, but has now been charged in Sacramento. The circumstances of Tang’s arrest were not clear, but she has not been charged with espionage.
US officials made the announcement just hours before Washington’s deadline for Beijing to shutter its consulate in Houston, a move that triggered China to retaliate Friday by demanding the US close its consulate in Chengdu.
Prosecutors earlier this week said that Tang concealed her connection to China’s military in order to enter the US, lied to federal investigators about those links and subsequently tried to avoid arrest by taking refuge in the San Francisco consulate.
During an interview with FBI agents on June 20, “Tang denied serving in the Chinese military, claimed she did not know the meaning of the insignia on her uniform, and that wearing a military uniform was required for attendance at FMMU because it was a military school,” attorneys wrote in a July 20 court filing.
But in a search of her home and electronic media, FBI investigators “discovered photographs of her in the uniform of the Civilian Cadre of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” and that she had been employed as a researcher at the Fourth Military Medical University.
She was charged with one count of visa fraud on June 26.
The US officials also said Friday that China’s Houston consulate was implicated in a fraud investigation at a Texas research institution. They charged that consulate officials “were directly involved in communications with researchers and guided them on what information to collect.”

Nationwide network

The activities in Houston “are a microcosm, we believe, of a broader network of individuals in more than 25 cities. That network is supported through the consulates here,” the Justice Department official said. “Consulates have been giving individuals in that network guidance on how to evade [and] obstruct our investigation. And you can infer from that the ability to task that (a) network of associates nationwide.”
The officials spoke a day after a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that recast the US-China relationship in starkly competitive terms, telling an audience at the Nixon Library in California that “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time and America is perfectly positioned to lead it.”
Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pompeo said: “We must admit our truth that should guide us in the years and decades to come, that if we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done,” he said. “We must not continue it and we must not return to it.”
The idea to close the Houston consulate emerged this spring after China interfered when US officials returned to the consulate in Wuhan, closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, to retrieve diplomatic materials, a senior State Department official told CNN.
Chinese authorities refused to let the US officials leave Wuhan with the pouches, saying they had to search them before leaving, an aggressive move that violates the Vienna Convention, which governs diplomatic relations. The encounter left Pompeo irate, the State Department official said.
The senior Justice Department official acknowledged that the US move against China’s espionage won’t yield many arrests. “By their very nature, consulates are a base of operations for foreign governments in the United States, including the intelligence services,” the official said, but “the sum total of the Houston consulates activities went well over the line of what we’re willing to accept.”
The official noted that although the activity of concern is illegal, it is “not necessarily amenable to criminal charges, among other reasons because of the diplomatic immunity that consulate officials enjoy.”
“You’re not necessarily going to see many prosecutions tied specifically to the Houston consulate as a means of disrupting that activity,” the official said in a call with reporters. “That tool just isn’t as available to us in this context as it would be elsewhere.” The official added that “the public examples and what I’m discussing here today are merely the tip of the iceberg at Houston.”
The US has given China until Friday afternoon to close the Houston facility. The Justice official said that unless the US “disrupted” the activity at the consulate there, it “threatened to become even more aggressive in Houston and at other Chinese consulates nationwide.”
“Our focus is on disrupting this activity out of Houston as well as deterring similar activity by Chinese officials and other consulates,” they said in the call with reporters. “Closing the Houston consulate and presenting relocation of those officials accomplishes both of those goals.”

Espionage on a massive scale

A senior intelligence official who took part in the briefing for reporters said that the sheer scale of China’s activity also means that the US is “not going to arrest our way out of” the challenge posed by Beijing’s espionage activities. “The problem posed by China is too large, so we’ve changed our tack to focus on communication and understanding,” they said.
This official said that the US has seen a 1,300% increase “in cases related to economic espionage and China over the last 10 years.” A lot of that increase is due to “enhanced communication and understanding of the threat,” rather than a marked increase in Chinese activity, this official said.
“China has always been doing this,” the intelligence official said, but noted that the US had only begun to fully understand the breadth and depth of some of the recruitment efforts in the last three years or so. The senior intelligence official said the FBI has “about 2,000 active counterintelligence investigations tied to China, and we open a new case about every 10 hours.”
The senior Justice Department official told reporters that “of all the cases we’ve brought over time alleging the theft of trade secrets, about 60% of those cases have some connection to China.”
That official said that in 80% of those cases, the US has “the unclassified proof that allows us to allege that the crime was intended to benefit a government.”
“We have, over time, seen consistently that China, meaning the People’s Republic of China government, as well as the companies doing business there, represent a disproportionate share of our trade secrets and economic espionage prosecutions,” they said.
The Justice official said there was no one event that led the administration to decide to take a tougher line on the Houston consulate. The government could not pick a “straw that broke the camel’s back,” the official said. “It has been an increase in malign activity, intelligence activity over time. And at some point, you say enough is enough … and then you decide who is one of the worst offenders.”
China struck back on Friday morning, when its Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China told the US Embassy in Beijing that it was withdrawing consent for the establishment and operation of the US Consulate General in Chengdu. The Foreign Ministry did not comment on whether the consulate had to be closed in 72 hours, instead saying “specific requirements” were outlined.
China accused US consular personnel in Chengdu of interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming its national security interests. US personnel at the consulate “engaged in activities inconsistent with their identities, they interfered in China’s internal affairs, and harmed China’s national security interest,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry.

30 days to get out

Wang added that China’s move against the Chengdu consulate was a “legitimate and necessary response” to the US demand that China’s Houston consulate be shut.
The senior State Department official said the Chinese demand that the Chengdu consulate close was not the most aggressive escalatory move they could have taken. The US consulate there was “low hanging fruit,” the official said, arguing that it would have been much more aggressive for China to go after the US consulate in Shanghai or Guangzhou.
The best scenario, in the view of US officials, would have been if the Chinese had forced the closure of the US diplomatic facility in Wuhan — which is the sister consulate to China’s outpost in Houston — given that it is already vacant due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There were about 60 Chinese officials at the Houston consulate, the official said. They will have to evacuate the embassy by this afternoon. All the officials, along with their families, have 30 days to leave the country.

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Chinese consulate

Chinese consulate in Houston appears to burn top secret documents after US ordered the office closed – The Sun


Chinese consulate in Houston appears to burn top secret documents after US ordered the office closed – YouTube
















































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charges Chinese

U.S. charges two Chinese nationals over coronavirus vaccine hacking scheme, other crimes – CNBC

The U.S. Department of Justice building is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2019.

Leah Millis | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice on Tuesday accused two Chinese nationals, who it said were working on behalf of the Chinese government, of stealing trade secrets and hacking into computer systems of firms working on the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to the 11-count indictment, Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 33, conducted a global hacking campaign for more than a decade. The indictment alleges that the defendants were able to successfully steal terabytes of data from the United States as well as Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 

The DOJ said in a statement that high-tech manufacturing processes, gaming software, solar energy engineering, pharmaceuticals and defense industries were among those targeted in the hack.

A California technology and defense company, a Maryland technology and manufacturing company, the Department of Energy’s Hanford site in Washington, a Texas engineering firm, a Virginia defense contractor, a Massachusetts software firm, a California gaming software company and several U.S. drugmakers were among the 13 U.S. businesses that were targeted, the DOJ said.

“In at least one instance, the hackers sought to extort cryptocurrency from a victim entity, by threatening to release the victim’s stolen source code on the Internet. More recently, the defendants probed for vulnerabilities in computer networks of companies developing Covid-19 vaccines, testing technology, and treatments,” the DOJ statement said.

The news comes amid a global race to create a vaccine for the coronavirus, which originated in China late last year before spreading across the globe, infecting millions. More than 140,000 people have died from the virus in the United States, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

“China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe haven for cybercriminals in exchange for those criminals being ‘on-call’ to work for the benefit of the state, here to feed the Chinese Communist party’s insatiable hunger for American and other non-Chinese companies’ hard-earned intellectual property, including Covid-19 research,” John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said Tuesday.

In order to conceal their efforts, the DOJ alleges, the hackers packaged victim data in encrypted Roshal Archive compressed files; changed the names of the files, victim documents and system time stamps; and concealed programs and documents. The defendants revictimized companies, government entities, and organizations from which they had previously stolen data.

The defendants are each charged with:

  • one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison,
  • one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison,
  • one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison,
  • one count of unauthorized access of a computer, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and
  • seven counts of aggravated identity theft, which each carries a mandatory sentence of two non-consecutive years in prison.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The latest revelation comes on the heels of a string of speeches made by Trump administration officials blasting China’s use of espionage and cyberattacks to steal intellectual property from American businesses. In blistering remarks earlier this month, FBI Director Chris Wray said Chinese tactics have created “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.”

U.S. officials have long complained that Chinese intellectual property theft has cost the economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs and that it threatens national security. Beijing maintains that it does not engage in intellectual property theft.

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Chinese Grows

Chinese GDP grows 3.2% in second quarter – Financial Times

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