Officials raised the alarm on Thursday over the volume of Chinese cyber activity against the US.

Commentators, including US Attorney General William Barr, pointed to ongoing cyberthreats against US businesses and academic institutions, painting a dire picture of concerted hacking efforts to support broad Chinese economic goals.

The officials gathered for the China Initiative Conference, an event that explored Chinese intellectual property transgressions. China engages in a broad spectrum of trade theft activity, including not just hacking but also physical theft, inappropriate use of materials licensed from joint ventures, and information fed to it by insiders working at western companies, they said.

Barr said that China has been supporting its Made In China 2025 initiative with trade theft. This policy, drafted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China over two-and-a-half years, is a ten-year effort officially started in 2015. It seeks to upgrade Chinese industry, producing 40% of targeted components domestically by 2020 and 70% by 2025. The initiative prioritises 10 sectors ranging from advanced IT through to biopharma. Barr said:

Since the announcement of Made In China 2025, the Department has brought trade secret theft cases in eight of the ten technologies that China is aspiring to dominate. In targeting these sectors the PRC employs a multi prong approach engaging in cyber intrusions co-opting private sector insiders through its intelligence services and using non-traditional collectors such as graduate students participating in university research projects.