In recent years, many states, mostly led by Republican governors, implemented various laws to protect the people living in those states and the nation from China and Chinese influence. South Carolina, part of the group with Texas, Florida and other states, have also implemented similar laws.
On March 23 last year, the South Carolina state Senate voted 31-5 to pass a bill preventing Chinese citizens from acquiring or managing property in South Carolina. This new law also includes a provision allowing Chinese-owned companies that were already conducting business in the state by December 31, 2022, to purchase additional land for expansion, provided they receive approval from the governor and the state Department of Commerce.
Florida most publicly enacted a law preventing Chinse residents to buy properties
Last year, several U.S. states—most publicly, Florida—passed laws that severely restrict Chinese nationals’ ability to buy property. More than a dozen states are debating similar laws that target individuals from China and, in some cases, other countries such as Iran and Syria. Proponents of these laws have argued that this legislation is a way to fight China’s threat to the United States. As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis put it recently, “I banned China from buying land in the state of Florida.”
FBI director exposes Chinese intention
While some argue these laws citing that some leaders simply go too far with enacting strict laws, other support these decision in the name of U.S. citizens’ safety and wellbeing. The latest to join the list that supports such laws is FBI Director Christopher Wray, who now even goes step further in explaining that China and their foreign policy don’t only target America’s politics and military, but also critical basic infrastructure which according to him, is a far worse. He called on the country to prepare for disruptive cyberattacks on water treatment plants and electrical grids among other critical infrastructure.
“PRC hackers are targeting our critical infrastructure, our water treatment plants, our electrical grid, our oil and natural gas pipelines, our transportation systems, and the risk that poses to every American requires our attention now,” Wray said at a hearing of the House’s Select Committee on China, using an abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China.
“China’s hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities,” he added.
“They’re not focused just on political and military targets, we can see from where they position themselves across civilian infrastructure that low blows aren’t just a possibility in the event of conflict — low blows against civilians are part of China’s plan.”
Christopher Wray seeks more money for cyber security
During a discussion on how China’s cyber activities are a risk to the US, Wray mentioned that China’s efforts to hack into systems go beyond just stealing ideas; they’re also attacking the vital systems people in the US use daily. He mentioned the budget talks happening at the same time, pointing out how much China is putting into its hacking efforts.
Wray pointed out that China’s hacking team is bigger than all other major countries’ teams put together. He said even if the FBI used all its cyber staff to focus on China, they would still be outnumbered by 50 to 1. Wray further emphasized the urgent need for the U.S. to invest more in America’s defense against these threats, not less, especially with critical budget decisions being made.
Jen Easterly, who leads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), warned Congress that Chinese hackers, among others, have been easily breaking into our vital systems to potentially destroy them.
She explained that these hackers exploit simple weaknesses in our technology, making their attacks much easier.
Easterly criticized the foundational security of the technology our critical systems use. This insecurity stems from a long history of software developers not being held accountable for flaws in their products. This has led to a focus on new features and quick releases over secure technology, making our country an easy target for cyber attacks.
She urged organizations to partner with CISA for free checks on their systems to find vulnerabilities.
Easterly emphasized that it’s crucial for tech companies to create and test products that are secure from the start. She stressed the importance of moving towards a future where hackers can’t easily exploit technological flaws to access important infrastructure.
She concluded by saying that all leaders in critical infrastructure must see cyber threats as a direct risk to their business. Handling these risks properly is not only essential for good management but is also a key aspect of national security.