FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2013 file photo, the building housing “Unit 61398” of the People’s Liberation Army is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai. China said Tuesday, March 12, 2013,  it is willing to cooperate with the United States in cybersecurity after the U.S. called on it to take "serious steps" to stop cyberattacks. Last month, a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm accused the Chinese military unit of attacking more than 140 mostly American companies. (AP Photo/File)

US manufacturers urge Obama to get tough on cybersecurity with China

Just days ahead of a highly anticipated two-day summit between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, American manufacturers urged Obama to stand up for American companies against Chinese cyber espionage.

During a conference call with reporters on Monday, Scott Paul — president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing — said he was concerned that Chinese involvement in the supply chain of U.S. defense systems, including rocket propellant, posed a critical national security risk.

AAM is a lobbying group representing U.S. manufacturers in Washington, D.C.

U.S. companies have also expressed continuous concern over the past several years that China has been conducting major industrial and military espionage, stealing patents and designs of high technology — including computers, software and advanced weapons systems.

“On intellectual property rights, I have to say I grow weary and tired of U.S.-China summitry when new agreements on intellectual property rights are announced, which are basically updated promises that China has made since 2001 to improve its enforcement of intellectual property rights,” said Paul.

“And I think that unless you hit China in the wallet,” he said, “that it has no incentive to improve the environment for [it] realizes there are no consequences for its behavior.”

While concern over China’s investment in U.S. debt has limited American options in dealing with China, Paul was confident that the U.S. had a stronger position than China. He told reporters that China depended on U.S. imports as vital parts of its economy.