FBI Director: China's Spying Has 'Reached a New Level'

Country has stolen more data 'than every other country combined'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2022 12:30 PM CST
FBI Director: China's Spying Has 'Reached a New Level'
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Nov. 8, 2021.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FBI Director Christopher Wray says China's economic espionage campaign is more damaging than ever, which is saying something, considering the scale of the Chinese government's spying stunned Wray when he became FBI director in 2017. "This one blew me away. And I'm not the kind of guy that uses words like 'blown away' easily," he tells NBC News in a sit-down interview. Five years later, "it's reached a new level—more brazen, more damaging than ever before," Wray added Monday during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, per the Guardian. He described attempts by the Chinese Community Party to win the loyalty of US politicians, including those at the local level, through money and intimidation.

"It is as complex and broad a threat as we've ever seen," Wray tells NBC, reiterating that the FBI opens a new counterintelligence investigation related to China twice a day on average, with more than 2,000 investigations underway. "The scale of their hacking program, and the amount of personal and corporate data that their hackers have stolen, is greater than every other country combined," he continues. "There is no country that presents a broader, more severe threat to our innovation, our ideas and our economic security than China does." He added Monday, per the Guardian: "While they pull ahead, they push our companies and workers behind. That harm—company failures, job losses—has been building for a decade to the crush we feel today."

Referring to tactics in suppressing criticism, he said that "China may be the first country to combine that kind of authoritarian ambition with cutting-edge technical capability. It's like the surveillance nightmare of East Germany combined with the tech of Silicon Valley." He said China works to silence both American citizens and Chinese citizens living in the US. He referred to the case of Purdue University graduate student Zhihao Kong, who praised student protesters killed in the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, only to have Ministry of State Security officials pay a visit to his parents in China, per NBC. "In many cases, Chinese Americans are some of the people most victimized by the Chinese government's tactics." (The FBI is urging Olympic athletes to use burner phones in China.)

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