It’s reportedly been happening since before Trump targeted tariffs at the nation.
Backstory: China is responsible for as much as 80 percent of all intellectual-property theft against US companies, according to the US Commission on Intellectual Property Theft. In 2015, China agreed to stop hacking the US for trade secrets. Until then, IP theft cost the US economy $300 billion a year. More recently, Trump placed tariffs on many imports to punish China for stealing American tech know-how.
The news: Axios reports that new security research shows China expanded state-sanctioned hacking for US patents and other trade secrets throughout 2017, targeting tech companies, law firms, and medical manufacturers, among others.
Why it matters: It was thought Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports would heighten US-China tensions, potentially starting a trade war and causing China to steal more American secrets than ever. The latter may have already happened.