Chinese hacking vaccine research: US

Chinese hacking vaccine research: US
Lindsay Graham
WASHINGTON, MAY 13 (AP) | Publish Date: 5/13/2020 12:44:50 PM IST

Organizations conducting research into COVID-19 may be targeted by computer hackers linked to the Chinese government, according to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Neither agency cited any specific examples Wednesday, but they warned that institutions and companies involved in work on vaccines, treatments and testing for the novel coronavirus should take additional security measures to protect data and be aware of the potential threat.

 “China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” said a statement from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “This announcement is intended to raise awareness for research institutions and the American public and provide resources and guidance for those who may be targeted.” It comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries over the source of the outbreak and Trump administration complaints that China did not adequately alert the world to the danger posed by the new coronavirus.

The warning also echoes long-standing U.S. complaints that China has engaged in the wholesale theft of technology and trade secrets to build its economy.

Institutions that have received media attention for their efforts related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, should assume that they would be targeted and should take precautions, the Department of Justice said.

 “The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options,” it said.

The FBI and the cybersecurity agency said they were issuing the alert to raise public awareness of the potential threat and said additional technical details would be released in the coming days.

China has defended its response to the virus, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denied the government was involved in any attempt to steal virus-related data on Monday, after some media reported on the warning in advance.  “We are leading the world in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine research,” Zhao told reporters. “It is immoral to target China with rumors and slanders in the absence of any evidence.”

US mulls sanctions on China

Washington, May 13 (PTI): Nine influential US senators have introduced a legislation in Congress seeking to authorise President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China if it fails to cooperate in providing a full accounting of the events leading up to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
More than 250,000 people have died and over 4 million have been infected due to the coronavirus pandemic globally. The US is the worst-hit country with more than 80,000 deaths and 1.4 million cases.
The COVID-19 Accountability Act, authored by Senator Lindsay Graham and co-sponsored by eight others, was introduced in the Senate - the upper chamber of Congress, on Tuesday.
It mandates the President to make a certification to Congress within 60 days that China has provided a full and complete accounting to any COVID-19 probe led by the US, its allies or the UN affiliates such as the World Health Organization and has closed all operating wet markets that have the potential to expose humans to health risks through the introduction of zoonotic disease into the human population.
Without the certification, the President would be authorised to impose a range of sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans, visa revocations, restricting US financial institutions from making loans or underwriting to Chinese businesses and prohibiting Chinese firms from being listed on American stock exchanges.
“I’m convinced that without the Chinese Communist Party deception, the virus would not be here in the United States,” said Graham.
“China refuses to allow the international community to go into the Wuhan lab to investigate. They refuse to allow investigators to study how this outbreak started. I’m convinced China will never cooperate with a serious investigation unless they are made to do so. This hard-hitting piece of legislation will sanction China until they cooperate with the investigators,” he said.
The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) must be held accountable for the detrimental role they played in this pandemic. Their outright deception of the origin and spread of the virus cost the world valuable time and lives as it began to spread, Senator Jim Inhofe said.
“The COVID-19 Accountability Act will force China to provide a full account of the events leading up to this devastating outbreak. America is strong and we will come out of this crisis, but China must be forced to face the facts and take accountability for their actions,” he said.
The CPC’s continued suppression of the truth amidst the coronavirus outbreak cannot go unchecked, said Senator Roger Wicker. This legislation would authorise the President to take appropriate actions against the Chinese government to ensure similar outbreaks do not happen in the future, he said.
This legislation is about taking necessary actions against China to hold them accountable for the cover up of the COVID-19 outbreak and to prevent the spread of future pandemics, said Senator Steve Daines.
“We must send a clear and strong message to China that there will be consequences for their reckless actions,” he said.
The Chinese government engaged in one of the biggest cover-ups in modern history—lying to the world and allowing the spread of the COVID-19 outside its borders, said Senator Thom Tillis.
The CPC’s mistakes enabled the coronavirus to grow from a local issue to a global pandemic. Instead of being transparent, Chinese diplomats are sharing propaganda. It is clear that China intends to use this crisis to their advantage by extending their influence around the world, Senator Todd Young said.
“China must be more forthcoming as investigations begin and we endeavour to learn lessons from this disaster. This legislation will demonstrate to the communist regime in Beijing that the world needs answers on how this pandemic started and spread misery across the globe,” said Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.
 China must be held accountable, and if it does not cooperate with these reasonable measures to fairly investigate the origins of the coronavirus, closes wet markets and releases pro-democracy advocates arrested during the pandemic, then it should face the serious consequences described by this legislation, said Senator Mike Braun.
“Communist China started a global pandemic and failed to provide any information that could have helped save thousands of lives. They need to be held accountable. If Communist China refuses to be honest about the origins of the Coronavirus, the US will not wait for history to judge them harshly.
“We will take action and we will do everything we can to hold Communist China accountable for the devastation they have caused around the world,” Senator Rick Scott said.
China has denied covering up the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and accused the US of attempting to divert the public attention by insinuating that the virus originated from a virology laboratory in Wuhan.
“China was the first country to report the COVID-19 to the World Health Organisation (WHO), (and) that doesn’t mean the virus originated from Wuhan... There has never been any concealment, and we’ll never allow any concealment,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last month.
“A discerning person will understand at a glance that the purpose is to create confusion, divert public attention, and shirk their responsibility. I’ll repeat what we said already many times. Tracing the source of the virus is a serious scientific issue. We need to listen to science and respect scientific and professional opinions, he said. 

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