FBI Director Christopher Wray gave a speech at the Hudson Institute today which highlighted his agency’s ongoing battle with Chinese operatives and spies. He said that cases involving China account for nearly half of all active counterintelligence cases:
Speaking at an event hosted by the Hudson Institute in Washington, Wray said that Chinese thefts amount to “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history,” and that the American people are the victims.
“Of the nearly 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases currently under way across the country, almost half are related to China,” Wray said. “And at this very moment, China is working to compromise American health care organizations, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions conducting essential COVID-19 research.”…
“If you’re an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data,” he said.
Wray opened his speech saying he would provide more detail on the threat from China than the FBI had ever presented in an open forum before. He then made the statement about the massive wealth transfer the Chinese theft of information represents, citing the Chinese hack of Equifax in 2017 which gave China access to data on 150 million Americans.
“We’ve now reached the point where the FBI is opening a new, China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours,” Wray said.
As for the goal of all of this activity, Wray was very clear about that: “China is engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary.”
Wray also mentioned the Thousand Talent Program which pays top academics to work at Chinese universities. A number of U.S. academics have been arrested in the past year for lying about their participation in the program. Since a lot of this research being stolen has a federal funding component, “American taxpayers are effectively footing the bill for China’s own technological development,” Wray said.
Wray spent several minutes talking about the ways in which China uses its markets to pressure companies and elected officials to comply with the communist party’s wishes. Sometimes that pressure is direct, i.e. if you make a visit to Taiwan, China will hold up approval of a specific company’s right to manufacture. In other cases, he said China identifies people close to the official and puts pressure on them to change the person’s mind.
“We’ve heard from federal, state and even local officials that Chinese diplomats are aggressively urging support for China’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis,” Wray said.
Here’s the full speech from the Hudson Institute: