U.S. Defense Department and Space Companies Increase Cooperation to Prevent Chinese Communist Theft of Space Technology

The theft of knowledge and technology by the Chinese Communist Party has been a major issue plaguing the U.S. To prevent Chinese espionage, the U.S. Department of Defense is increasing its cooperation with regional space companies to protect U.S. intellectual property in space.

At a hearing on military space policy and programs before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces on Wednesday (May 26), the acting U.S. Air Force secretary for acquisition Darlene Costello, acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces.

Costello told lawmakers that despite significant efforts by the Defense Department to protect intellectual property, the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to steal U.S. space technology remain a problem. Now, the Defense Department and contractors in many sectors of the industry are using the best talent in an effort to combat intellectual property theft.

At the hearing, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, noted that many regional space companies are small and may not have the resources and cybersecurity capabilities to protect their systems.

Costello responded that the Air Force is continually working with its space industry partners to ensure they do have proper security measures in place. However, breaches are still occurring. But Costello added, “It has happened occasionally. We’ve done a better job and continue to inspire our industry partners and work with them on cybersecurity and intellectual property.”

Costello further explained, “Companies have a tremendous incentive to protect their intellectual property, and the business community doesn’t want that out the door. So it’s in our mutual interest and they’re actively working on it.”

“We have some of our best people working on this,” Costello specifically emphasized. She also said all ideas on how to improve are welcome, because it’s a tough challenge.

Currently, Washington has imposed trade restrictions on more than 40 companies identified by the Defense Department as having ties to the Chinese Communist military and operating in the United States. A report released Thursday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish U.S. think tank, noted that many more companies with ties to the Communist Party’s military or their subsidiaries operate in the United States but are not tracked. The report recommends measures to expand the scope of the review and prioritize the Defense Department’s blacklist.

Under recently proposed legislation, defense contractors would be required to report to the Defense Department whether they have printed circuit boards made in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea in their supply systems.