Idaho’s Jim Risch was among the senators to question the heads of all the nation’s intelligence agencies in the annual hearing on worldwide threats this week. Risch used his time to highlight a security threat striking a particular Treasure Valley company.
Along with chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Risch also has a seat on the Intelligence Committee. This week, members of the group invited the heads of the CIA, FBI and other top officers to brief them.
During Risch’s time to speak, he focused on the threat China poses to U.S. businesses and global competition by referencing Boise-based Micron Technology.
“They’ve had a recent case where Chinese nationals stole intellectual property and then took it back to China, and are now suing Micron in China,” the Republican senator said. “This is a kind of thing that we just can’t have.”
Risch told the panel of intelligence chiefs he had a spirited discussion about the Micron case with the Chinese ambassador, who downplayed the incident. The Republican senator then asked the panel what can be done about China’s wily practices.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats noted China’s dramatic rise over the last few decades and tipped his hat to the role corporate espionage played. While explaining efforts to combat Chinese theft, Coats had to stop himself.
“We’ve been traveling around the United States meeting with CEOs and others,” Coats said. “We’re dialing up a program with the—I think I ought to stop right there and the rest of this ought to go into a secure setting.”
The trade secrets China is accused of stealing from Micron are estimated to be worth more than $8 billion.
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