Rep. Mike Gallagher, center, chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, speaks at a news conference after the Republican Party Caucus meeting at the Republican National Committee offices in Washington, DC, February 28, 2023. Fellow Republican Elise Štefánik, left, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Two top Republican congressmen on Thursday urged the Justice Department to investigate the theft of intellectual property from American small businesses by Chinese actors.

Chinese IP theft costs the U.S. economy $600 billion a year and has a disproportionate impact on small businesses, Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Roger Williams of Texas said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. Another 24 Republican lawmakers also signed the letter.

“Keeping America’s small businesses safe from intellectual property crimes is critical, and we urge the U.S. Department of Justice to use all the tools and capabilities at its disposal,” the lawmakers wrote. Gallagher is chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s House Select Committee, while Williams chairs the House Committee on Small Business.

Evidence of Chinese theft of IP from US businesses goes back several years. An estimate of the economic toll in the order of billions of dollars comes from 2017 report from the National Bureau of Asian Research’s commission on the theft of American intellectual property.

And 2018 analysis on IP theft by a U.S. trade representative found that the Chinese government “performed and supported cyber intrusions into U.S. business networks targeting confidential business information held by U.S. firms.”

In 2019, it was 1 in 5 North American companies on the CNBC Global CFO Council IP theft reported from Chinese companies over the past year.

The Parliamentary Committee of the Czech Communist Party is putting pressure on the Ministry of Justice Intellectual Property Working Group prioritize theft scenarios among small businesses that can cripple those with few resources to compensate for losses. The lawmakers were quoted by Fox Business News message describing the theft of a proprietary design from an irrigation company.

Another small businessman had to struggle unauthorized copies of its violin teaching instrument in the Chinese market in 2019, the letter said.

Gallagher and Williams have asked their respective committees for a detailed briefing with overviews of current intellectual property protections — especially against China — and details of the Justice Department’s investigative efforts and counterfeiting practices by June 30.

The CCP House Committee was created after the Republican Party regained control of the House after the 2022 elections. It aims to investigate the threats posed to the US by the Chinese government.

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