"Hacking from China was continuing. It remains unabated." -- William Shea, Chairman of the US-China Economic and Security Review CommissionReuters
US lawmakers should look into options for punishing cyberspying and the theft of trade secrets from US companies, a congressional advisory committee on China said on Thursday.
Congress should ask the US trade officials to report on whether they had power to sanction companies that benefited from stealing trade secrets, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in its annual report to Congress.
"If authorities do not exist, they should provide a proposal to address such problems," said the commission, a bipartisan advisory body that monitors economic and security relations between the United States and China.
The United States accused five Chinese military officers in May of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.
Prosecutors said the suspects targeted companies including Alcoa Inc, Allegheny Technologies Inc, United States Steel Corp, Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse Electric Co and the US arm of solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG, which had all filed unfair trade claims against Chinese rivals.
The leaders of the commission said hacking from China was continuing.
"It remains unabated," commission Chairman William Shea told a news conference previewing the massive report.
There were actions companies could take, like setting up fake information accounts to divert hackers' attention, he said.
The report said Chinese companies benefited from a host of unfair trade practices, including subsidies and limits on foreign investment, that violated at least the spirit of Beijing's World Trade Organization commitments and contributed indirectly to a loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
The commission also pointed out a worrying increase in the US imports of pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients from China, given the prevalence of "fake and substandard" drugs.
Although the US Food and Drug Administration was expanding its team of China-based drug inspectors, slow action on visa applications meant there were currently only two full-time and one-part-time FDA inspectors for China's entire drug industry, commission Vice Chairman Bill Reinsch said.