If China is the 10 of spades for industrial espionage, then the USA is the Ace of spades & trumps it!
Consider the following scenario: You have been employed on a research project for some months or years. The project is concluded, and you find yourself unemployed. So you seek another job in the field for which you are qualified and most experienced. Because of your experience, you are allotted to a specific position. In that position, you are working on something, notice a design defect, and, from your previous experience, not just fix the problem but improve on the design. Have you just committed espionage?
My entire career was based on what I knew, which I had derived from previous employment or, more particularly, experiences I’d gained while previous employers exploited my brainpower.
In the long, dismal past, there was once a thing called “The Masters & Servants Act:” The law prohibited an employee from gaining employment with another employer who might benefit from the previous employer’s “employment” of the employee (I love legalese). This law was abolished because of its impracticality in a more modern world! In my early career, contracts existed that determined how many years must elapse before you were allowed to be employed in an equivalent position with an “equivalent” employer. Those contracts tended to disappear as skill shortages rose around the world. Now we have non-disclosure agreements. You can’t just go from employer to employer ripping each off by migrating designs from one to another, that would be a type of industrial sabotage but not espionage, wouldn’t it? (e.g. scientists in the USA working on the atomic bomb, giving the USSR their design etc.).
Now there is a little loophole in many fields called “innovation.” If you take a product and improve upon it by tweaking the original design, you have a new product. Espionage is not required. You simply buy a target commodity off the shelf, strip it down and reverse engineer it and then re-engineer it to create a superior product. That is basically what the USA, Russians, Brits, France, Chinese and everybody else has been doing for the last century.
For instance: Edison didn’t invent the light bulb or most of the stuff accredited to him. He stole, bought or otherwise appropriated someone else’s invention, and hired brains to improve upon the design.
Bill Gates is known to have done the same thing (remember that Xerox initially designed and perfected the “Word” and “Excel” computer applications.).
Trump’s latest gripe is that China has been buying technology companies to acquire existing patents; the reason Trump is so upset about this turnaround is it is preventing USA companies from appropriating those patents.
This is how the real world works in a technological age! Come to think of it this, is how technological advances have always been made! Trump’s naivety is the type of thing that set back human advancement because technologies died with their inventors or “were lost” with the demise of the last cartels that possessed the knowledge.
In 1959, Isaac Asimov, in his day job as a genuine scientist, defined intelligence as a third truth derived from two unrelated “truths.” The third truth is what we call innovation.
When you read about Donald Trump’s tirades, remember the USA’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who admitted a few years ago about the USA administration (CIA): “we lie, we cheat, and, we steal”.