FBI head says China biggest threat to U.S. economic and national security

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FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking at the Hudson Institute, wash dc think tank, on U.S. China relations. Photo: fbi.gov

Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Director Christopher Wray says the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party poses an economic and national security threat to the United States.

Speaking via videoconference at  an event hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Hudson Institute,  July 7, 2020, Wray said, “The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China. It’s a threat to our economic security—and by extension, to our national security.”

Over the last several months with an uptick over the last week, a series of pronouncements on China’s ostensible threat have been emanating from not just President Trump, who has railed against Beijing during his various campaign events, but also the top official at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Now the premier intelligence agency, has joined in.

Calling Americans the “victims of what amounts to Chinese theft on a scale so massive that it represents one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history,” the FBI director .

“If you are an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data,” Wray said.

He cited the 2017 hacking of Equifax, which resulted in personal information of some 150 million Americans is now is Chinese hands, and that the health, livelihoods and security of the American people were at stake.

The FBI is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours, Wray said.

Of the nearly 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China.

“… when I speak of the threat from China, I mean the government of China and the Chinese Communist Party,” the FBI director clarified.

China, he said, is “in a generational fight to surpass our country in economic and technological leadership,” and Beijing was bent on becoming “the world’s only superpower by any means necessary.”

Through all means of economic and technological espionage, Wray said, China had stolen billions of dollars worth of innovation and ideas, and made them their own with little respect for intellectual property, citing several cases by name, with the goal also of becoming the becoming a world leader in artificial intelligence.

“China is using social media platforms—the same ones Americans use to stay connected or find jobs—to identify people with access to our government’s sensitive information and then target those people to try to steal it,” Wray said, adding that the Chinese threat is also invading American academia.

In addition, Wray said, “China is engaged in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign, and its methods include bribery, blackmail, and covert deals,” whereby  Chinese diplomats also use both open, naked economic pressure and seemingly independent middlemen to push China’s preferences on American officials.

Since 2014, Wray contended, President Xi Jinping has spearheaded a program known as “Fox Hunt” that targets political rivals of the existing regime living outside China, including many in the United States, even threatening their lives if they did not return to their home country.

Wray went on to say that the Chinese business environment and culture was radically different from that of the United States and this should give pause to American companies considering partnerships with Chinese corporations like Huawei, which has been charged in the United States with racketeering conspiracy and has, as alleged in the indictment, stolen intellectual property from U.S. companies, obstructed justice, and lied to the U.S. government and its commercial

“The Chinese government is engaged in a broad, diverse campaign of theft and malign influence, and it can execute that campaign with authoritarian efficiency. They’re calculating. They’re persistent. They’re patient. And they’re not subject to the righteous constraints of an open, democratic society or the rule of law,” Wray said.

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