Laser weapon technology used by China is America's next biggest security threat, warns two trade experts.
Emily Benson and Catharine Mouradian of the Project on Trade and Technology at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said lidar, or laser-based radar, is a critical technology used in autonomous systems and robotics that is not subject to U.S. export controls or government procurement restrictions. Some experts say the technology could be used for spying and cyberattacks.
"U.S. firms claim that Chinese LiDAR poses imminent security risks, a claim that Chinese firms dispute," they wrote in an opinion piece for the Hill.
"Chinese LiDAR producers like Hesai argue that the Chinese government cannot access any data collected by their automotive LiDAR equipment as it does not connect to the internet and that their equipment cannot store sufficient quantities of data to pose a threat.
"Beyond questions about data security, a potentially more potent concern is foreign dominance over U.S. producers, which potentially imperils the vitality of the U.S. industry overall," they added.
The House Select Committee on Tuesday called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to investigate Chinese lidar makers, saying they want to ensure U.S. tech secrets don't end up in Beijing.
Other lawmakers have complained in committee hearings and to Cabinet officials about the national security risk.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the demand for lidar has surged with the use of smart-city infrastructure, robotaxis, and assisted-driving features. It is now estimated to be a $2 billion market, says Emergen Research.
"An inability to procure domestic LiDAR would leave the United States reliant on potentially less secure foreign products and products that could ultimately be weaponized or cut off," wrote Benson and Mouradian.
They said the U.S. should consider "initiating a new Section 301 investigation that would subject additional LiDAR technologies to tariff measures," adding that more "must be done to promote American innovation in this national security critical technology sector and to promote a truly competitive U.S. LiDAR sector."
Solange Reyner ✉
Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.
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