Recently, the Biden Administration revoked a series of executive orders by the Trump Administration that aimed to protect American consumers from security threats posed by Chinese-owned companies like social media giant TikTok and messaging app WeChat. This policy shift could be dangerous if it opens the door for companies with ties to the Chinese government.
We must understand that all China’s moves are by purposeful design. It’s not far-fetched to imagine a nightmare scenario where the Chinese Communist Party has an iron grip on not only its 1.3 billion citizens but most of the world’s commerce and billions of people outside its borders. Unfortunately, that nightmare is already playing out before California residents’ eyes — eyes which should now be wide open.
Chinese military hackers compromised the personal data of 15 million Californians through breaching credit reporting agency Equifax. Chinese hackers have also probed the networks of California health care companies working to fight COVID-19 while targeting the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to nearly 19 million California residents.
This is nothing short of cyber warfare. And we know by experience when adamant aggressors are ignored, they only move more aggressively.
These Chinese activities, while alarming, only scratch the surface of that country’s predatory data collection agenda. Whether it’s through TikTok, Alibaba (an online commerce giant), China UnionPay (a payments giant), or constant cyberattacks on America, the Communist Party is looking to mine, aggregate, and utilize California’s personal information at every turn.
The party is building a database of Californians’ personal information using these hacked materials and doesn’t appear to have any appetite for slowing down. Why should they in the absence of any push back or targeted discouragement?
It’s up to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to fight back and reject any incursion of China into California homes. Because it’s obvious what’s next if nothing is done. Thankfully, Congressman Darrell Issa has proven himself willing to stand up against the authoritarian regime from across the Pacific.
During his time in Congress, he’s regularly co-sponsored legislation cracking down on Chinese aggression. Perhaps where Issa deserves the most praise is co-sponsoring the “Cyber Diplomacy Act,” which has already passed the House. This crucial bill would create an international strategy for cyberspace and give the State Department the resources it needs to “push back against any malign activities” from China and other adversarial nations.
It seems obvious that passing this bill should be a top priority of Senate leaders in the coming weeks.
Still looming, though, is the under-addressed risk of growing Chinese influence in American commerce. Many Americans are familiar with TikTok videos and recognize the growing presence of wholesale online retailer Alibaba, which is one of the world’s largest companies.
However, China is also extending beyond traditional commerce into our financial services with online stock trading platforms, such as Webull and Moomoo, that have ties to the government. That means some of state residents’ most personal financial information is at risk of being shared with the leaders of China’s communist government.
There’s also the payments giant China UnionPay, which boasts 8.4 billion cards. That’s more cards than people on Earth, and it’s far more cards than all the U.S payment companies combined.
By requiring merchants to link with at least two unaffiliated network providers, the Durbin Amendment of the infamous Dodd-Frank Act essentially allowed this Chinese company to begin processing your debit card transactions. The latest congressional push to expand the amendment may allow the communist regime to begin doing the same for your credit card purchases. That’s right: Instead of your bank processing transactions on your card, it could be China UnionPay.
This proposal would let China process the transaction and gain unprecedented access to American purchase data. Why is this proposal getting any attention at all? Is this another sell off of American assets and private information? In this new technocratic world, data is king and technocrats like China are out to collect as much data as possible from all parts of our world. And do you believe it’s for beneficent reasons?
San Diego County is home to hundreds of thousands of veterans and military families, and 13.5% of our local businesses are owned or jointly owned by veterans. For a robust military community like ours, the idea of handing over personal and financial data to China should be a non-starter with our local members of Congress.
Our lawmakers have fought hard to combat China, recently passing legislation to boost research and development to resist growing Chinese influence. However, those efforts will be in vain if we allow Chinese state-owned companies to grow and prosper in the United States and then attack American enterprises. Congress shouldn’t wave the white flag now — we should stand up to China’s cheating and protect Americans from the threats of today and tomorrow.
California’s Bill Martinez is the host of the nationally syndicated Bill Martinez Live Show