Blackburn Op-Ed: Cyberthreats Sponsored by Chinese Communist Party

June 25, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) penned the following op-ed in the Washington Times detailing the need for Congress to pass the bipartisan Removing Our Unsecure Technologies to Ensure Reliability and Security (ROUTERS) Act, which she recently introduced to protect our nation’s citizens, intellectual property, and critical infrastructure from the Chinese Communist Party’s malicious cyberattacks. 

Cyberthreats sponsored by Chinese Communist Party
Senator Marsha Blackburn and Representative Bob Latta

Washington Times

Tens of millions of families and small businesses across the country use wireless routers as their primary access point to the internet. Many of these routers are susceptible to infiltration by foreign actors, including China, jeopardizing our national security and exposing our country to serious danger. 

Just last year, U.S. and Japanese officials revealed that BlackTech, a hacker group connected to the Chinese Communist Party, targeted routers at government agencies and corporations in the two countries to steal intellectual property, including from the defense, technology and electronics sectors.

In January, the Justice Department also reported that Chinese-sponsored hackers infected routers in the U.S. with malware to target critical water, energy and transportation infrastructure — an attack that FBI Director Christopher Wray called a “pre-positioning to cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities in the event of conflict” between America and China.

The threat of cyberattacks is even greater with routers developed by Chinese companies. Because of strict laws in China that require companies to collaborate with the Communist Party, including by sharing users’ sensitive data, Chinese-developed routers are especially vulnerable to infiltration by state-backed hackers. This past January, China-linked hackers in Europe targeted home routers developed by the Chinese company TP-Link, whose products U.S. cybersecurity experts have repeatedly warned are susceptible to cyberattacks. 

Despite these vulnerabilities, several federal agencies, including the Defense Department, have purchased TP-Link routers. 

After years of complacency in Washington about China’s threat to our nation’s information networks, the Trump administration and Congress took bold action in 2020 to protect the American people with the passage of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act. 

As a result of this crucial legislation, the Federal Communications Commission ultimately banned the sale and import of equipment from Chinese-owned telecommunications companies such as Huawei and ZTE, which U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies deem national security threats. As we speak, U.S. companies continue to rip and replace Chinese-made software and communications equipment. 

While these efforts delivered real results to protect Americans, our nation continues to face threats of Chinese espionage and cyberattacks — and there are few larger potential vulnerabilities, if exploited, than wireless routers.

Make no mistake: Wireless routers with security vulnerabilities, especially those developed by Chinese companies, threaten the safety of every American.

Thankfully, momentum is growing in Congress to address this issue.

As the ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security and the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, we are spearheading the bipartisan Removing Our Unsecure Technologies to Ensure Reliability and Security Act, known as the ROUTERS Act. 

This crucial legislation would require the Commerce Department to review the national security threat posed by any router that is designed, developed, manufactured or supplied by a company under the jurisdiction of China, as well as U.S. adversaries Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. 

Depending on the study’s outcome, Congress could take further action to require the Commerce Department to designate dangerous routers as national security threats, allowing the FCC to halt their sale in America under the Trump-era Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.

Given the grave threats to our national security, it should be no surprise that the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved the ROUTERS Act in a unanimous and bipartisan 43-0 vote.

As China works to undermine U.S. global leadership, it is essential that we protect our intellectual property, critical infrastructure and American citizens from the Chinese Communist Party’s malicious cyberattacks. With the ROUTERS Act, Congress has an incredible opportunity to help make that happen.


  • Senator Blackburn introduced the ROUTERS Act with Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).
  • Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee.