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Washington – A congressional advisory panel says the purchase of internet-linked devices manufactured in China leaves the United States vulnerable to security breaches that could put critical infrastructure at risk.

In its annual report on Wednesday, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns of dangers to the U.S. government and private sector from a reliance on global supply chains linked to China, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of information technology equipment.

China’s push to dominate in the high-tech industry by 2025 already is a sore point with Washington and a contributing factor in trade tensions that have seen the world’s two largest economies slap billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other’s products this year.

The U.S. also has had long-running concerns about state-backed cyber theft of corporate secrets, something that China agreed to stop in 2015. But the bipartisan commission highlights the potential security risks to the United States by China’s pre-eminence in the so-called internet of things, or IoT, which refers to the proliferation of physical devices that have sensors that collect and share data and connect to the internet. Such devices could be everything from household appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners to warehouse delivery systems, smart traffic signs and aerial drones.

“The scale of Chinese state support for the IoT, the close supply chain integration between the United States and China, and China’s role as an economic and military competitor to the United States creates enormous economic, security, supply chain, and data privacy risks for the United States,” the report says.

The commission, which does not set policy but can make recommendations to Congress and the U.S. administration, is warning that the potential impact of malicious cyberattacks through such systems will intensify with the adoption of ultra-fast 5G networks.

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