The Voice of America reported (October 7) that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a first-of-its-kind Homeland Threat Assessment on October 7. The report mentioned major threats that countries such as China and Russia pose, including cybersecurity and foreign influence. The report stated that the United States faces potential threats that China poses in terms of cybersecurity, foreign influence, and supply chains. On October 6, Acting Homeland Secretary Chris Wolf tweeted, “The most long term strategic threat to Americans, our Homeland, and our way of life is the threat from China.” The report said, “China already poses a high cyber-espionage threat to the Homeland and Beijing’s cyber-attack capabilities will grow" and that “Chinese cyber actors will, almost certainly, continue to engage in wide-ranging cyber espionage to steal intellectual property and personally identifiable information (PII) from U.S. businesses and government agencies to bolster their civil-military industrial development, gain an economic advantage and support intelligence operations. China possesses an increasing ability to threaten and potentially disrupt U.S. critical infrastructure.” The DHS expects China’s cyber operations against U.S. companies to focus on critical manufacturing, defense, the industrial base, energy, healthcare, and transportation sectors. It revealed that “Since August 2019, more than 10,000 suspected fake Twitter accounts with suspected ties to the Chinese Government have been involved in a coordinated influence campaign.” The Threat Assessment warned  that China will “seek to cultivate influence with state and local leaders directly and indirectly, often via economic carrots and sticks such as informal and legal or social agreements that seek to promote cultural and commercial ties. Chinese officials calculate that U.S. state- and local-level officials enjoy a degree of diplomatic independence from Washington and may leverage these relationships to advance policies that are in China’s interest during times of strained relations.” It added that in terms of economic security, “China and Russia will continue to represent the top threats to U.S. supply chain security, given the sophisticated intelligence and cyber capabilities they can use to infiltrate trusted suppliers and vendors to target equipment and systems." The DHS report said “China is collecting information on U.S. supply chain shortages and is using the COVID-19 crisis to build additional leverage with the United States. … China could exploit future shortages of critical supplies by conditioning their provision on U.S. acquiescence in other matters important to Beijing.” On academic institutions and research, it said China “will continue exploiting U.S. academic institutions and the visa system to transfer valuable research and intellectual property (IP) that Beijing calculates will provide a military or economic advantage over the United States and other nations.” Wolf told CBS during an interview that the China threat “cuts across a variety of different threats, from the cyber threats we see, from foreign influence, to supply chain security, to exploiting our academic and visa systems, foreign investment here in the U.S., trade policy violations and the like.” He said, “It goes on and on and on. …”  “Just across the board, threat after threat stream, we see China playing a very significant and enhanced role really trying to do the U.S. some long-term harm.”

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