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U.S. Opinions: Washington

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A message to China

From an editorial in The Washington Post on last Thursday:

The Justice Department should be commended for taking action against alleged audacious economic espionage by China, targeting the United States. The indictments returned on Monday highlight in some detail what has been openly discussed for several years – that China, as a matter of state policy, uses computer hacking to steal secrets that benefit its companies, a heist that some have called history’s greatest theft of intellectual property.

The indictments are a useful signal to China that this behavior is intolerable, but law enforcement can’t stop it. This is going to be a long battle, and it is going to be murky and uncertain.

Economic espionage is the theft of proprietary, industrial or company secrets for competitive advantage. The U.S. government carries out espionage for national security, but it does not grab information to benefit industry. The charges announced by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. reflect a fundamental belief that theft on such a scale is criminal.

We should harbor no illusions that China shares these definitions or values. China is striving to leap several generations of economic growth in a relatively short period, and it sees national purpose in purloining valuable designs, plans, communications and all sorts of intelligence to advance that goal.

Even if adversaries don’t share U.S. values, they must know that the United States’ intellectual property will be defended.

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