US politicians have warned of the consequences for the US if China unleashes its power on the country’s critical systems.
U.S. lawmakers on July 18 at a U.S. House Committee hearing said China was a growing threat to the U.S. energy grid, and warned that a cyberattack from the Middle Kingdom could plunge military and other critical installations “into darkness.”
“China’s activities are of great concern. China’s cyber activity is one of the most dynamic cyber threats. China continues to show increasing sophistication, including new and adaptive methods of gaining access to networks,” said Manny Kansel, senior vice president of North American Electric Reliability Corp.
The hearing comes as the U.S. power grid has become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks, with incidents such as physical attacks and vandalism increasing by about 77% in 2022, according to data committee.
According to a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, China is “almost certainly capable” of carrying out cyber attacks that could disrupt critical infrastructure systems in the US, including oil and gas pipelines and rail systems.
The discussions took place amid growing tensions between the United States and China. Tensions escalated further after U.S. officials reported that Chinese hackers hacked email accounts Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and other State Department and Commerce Department officials. The hack took place weeks before Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken’s visit to Beijing in June.
Previously it was reported that Biden administration plans to restrict access Chinese companies to US cloud computing services. The move is aimed at protecting US technology from being stolen or used for military purposes by China, which is the US’s main competitor in the field of artificial intelligence. China has hit back, including banning some firms from buying products from Micron Technology, the largest manufacturer of memory chips in the US.
In addition, the UK Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) accused China of penetrating all areas of the British economy and aggressive interference in the interests and values of the West. Not only is China a serious commercial competitor, politicians say, but it could undermine the foundations of liberal democratic systems.