Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is terminating the “China Initiative” initiated during the Trump Administration designed to counter theft of US intellectual property by the Chinese Communist Party. The DOJ said that the program was canceled because a review found it discriminatory against Asian-Americans.
The program began in 2018 to identify and prosecute persons and organizations involved in intellectual property theft, computer hacking, and “economic espionage.” It was also designed to protect critical American infrastructure from external threats from “foreign direct investment” and attempts to compromise the US supply chain.
The DOJ has said that it will replace the Trump-era program with a more politically acceptable “Strategy for Countering Nation-State Threats” to Iran, Russia, North Korea, and other adversarial nations.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said Wednesday that the DOJ’s goal is to “take a comprehensive approach” that addresses the “alarming rise” of spying and theft conducted by hostile foreign actors. He said the DOJ intends to address threats inside the US and abroad.
Olsen said several hostile nations seek to undermine “core democratic, economic, and scientific institutions.” He added that foreigners are using a “growing range of tactics” to conduct operations harmful to the US, and defending against them is a “national security imperative and a priority for the Department.”
Even though he admitted the terminated program was designed to address national security risks, Olsen went on to say that it had been creating the impression that the federal government was prejudiced against some races and ethnicities. Olsen did say that he agreed with the assessment of FBI Director Christopher Wray that the Chinese Communist Party has been acting in “more brazen and damaging ways than ever before.”
When the Trump-era program was initiated, there was little doubt that communist China was the greatest threat to US security domestically and worldwide. Since Russia has now openly started warfare against neighboring Ukraine, the overall assessment of international threats has shifted. The challenge remains for the Biden DOJ to address threats from multiple fronts simultaneously effectively.