WASHINGTON D.C.—Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) chaired a Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing entitled, “Chinese Hacking: Impact on Human Rights and Commercial Rule of Law.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the impact of Chinese cyber-attacks on American businesses and the human rights community. As China pursues indigenous innovation policies aimed at boosting Chinese companies and creating national champions, cyber-attacks from China have increased, leading to enormous losses to U.S. jobs, intellectual property (IP), and economic competitiveness.

“China’s frequent and illegal cyber-attacks have made it the world’s biggest violator of intellectual property rights,” Brown said. “The victims of IP theft include companies in Ohio and hard-working Americans trying to make an honest living, only to see their products, services, and technology stolen. But victims also include the media and human rights organizations that try to take a stand against human rights violations in China. That’s why I urge Congress and the Obama Administration to do everything it can – from leveraging access to our markets, trade negotiations, and World Trade Organization cases – to combat China’s unfair trading practices. That includes taking up the bipartisan Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013 which I introduced earlier this month.”     

Chinese cyber-attacks have received significant recent attention, including a February report by cyber security firm Mandiant directly linking an extensive hacking program to the People’s Liberation Army. In May, the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property singled out China as the biggest perpetrator of IP theft and cited losses to the U.S. economy in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year. The issue has become a key point of contention between the U.S. and China, featuring prominently at President Obama’s recent summit with President Xi Jinping. The two sides plan to address the issue during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July.

 Today’s hearing featured testimony from:

  • Slade Gorton, Former U.S. Senator from Washington State, Commission Member, Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property;
  • James Mulvenon, Ph.D., Vice-President, Intelligence Division, Director, Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, Defense Group, Inc.;
  • Wen Yunchao (Online alias “Bei Feng”), Independent Journalist and Blogger, and Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University; and
  • Wen Yunchao (Online alias “Bei Feng”), Independent Journalist and Blogger; Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University.

Brown asked the panel of witnesses how existing trade enforcement tools can address this problem, and how Congress can help the private sector combat the theft of IP.

Congress created the CECC in 2000 to monitor China's compliance with international human rights standards, to encourage the development of the rule of law in the People’s Republic of China, and to establish and maintain a list of victims of human rights abuses in China. The Commission submits an annual report to the President and Congress on these subjects.

Brown has long fought to prevent human rights violations and to protect American workers when China refuses to play by the rules. Earlier this month, following new figures that show a 34 percent jump over last month’s U.S.-China trade deficit, Brown introduced the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation that would reform and enhance oversight of currency exchange rates. Specifically, the bill would use U.S. trade law to counter the economic harm to U.S. manufacturers caused by currency manipulation, and provide consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment. Brown’s introduction came in advance of talks between President Obama and Chinese President Xi.

Earlier this month, Brown urged President Obama to seek the release of Peng Ming, a human rights activist whose daughter is a high school student in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Brown’s effort came in advance of talks between President Obama and Chinese President Xi.

Last month, Brown chaired a CECC hearing on “Food and Drug Safety, Public Health, and the Environment in China.” The hearing specifically addressed transparency and accountability in China as they relate to public health, food and drug safety, and environmental pollution issues. In recent months, news of an avian influenza outbreak in China, rat meat sold as lamb in China, nearly 20,000 dead pig carcasses found floating down rivers near Shanghai, air pollution in some parts of China rivaling the deadly London smog incident in the 1950s, and soil contamination that may be so bad that authorities have refused to make data public, have garnered widespread attention and concern.