Threats From China ‘More Brazen, More Damaging’ Than Ever Before: FBI Director

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The United States is facing a new level of threat from the Chinese regime that’s “more brazen, more damaging” than ever before, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Jan. 31.

“When we tally up what we see in our investigations, over 2,000 of which are focused on the Chinese government trying to steal our information or technology, there’s just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, innovation, and economic security than China,” Wray said during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.

In fact, these theft incidents have been happening “literally every day,” he added, noting that the bureau is opening new cases to counter China’s intelligence operations about every 12 hours.

“They identify key technologies to target,” Wray said, pointing to China’s industrial blueprint known as “Made in China 2025.” “Then, they throw every tool in their arsenal at stealing the technology to succeed in those areas.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) released the blueprint in 2015, a 10-year economic plan aimed at advancing 10 domestic tech manufacturing industries. These sectors include robotics, new energy vehicles, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, maritime vessels, and agricultural machinery and equipment.

To steal what it needs, the Chinese regime has unleashed “a massive, sophisticated hacking program that’s bigger than those of every other major country combined,” Wray said, adding that China’s own hackers often work with cybercriminals.

One such hacking incident was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice in July 2020 when it indicted two Chinese hackers who worked with CCP’s Ministry of State Security (MSS)—the regime’s chief intelligence agency. The two allegedly targeted hundreds of victims, including companies, government and non-governmental organizations, and U.S.-based human rights activists, in a decade-long campaign.

A China-backed hacking group, with purported ties to the Chinese regime, was behind the 2021 cyberattack against Microsoft by exploiting vulnerabilities in the company’s Exchange Server software, compromising tens of thousands of systems globally.

Aside from hacking, Beijing also deploys its intelligence agents to co-opt individuals, who can assist with operations such as by providing cover, spotting and assessing sources, and helping with the theft, Wray said.

He used the speech to highlight one particular criminal case—a Chinese MSS agent named Xu Yanjun who recruited a GE Aviation engineer—to say that there are many similar Chinese operations.

Xu was convicted in November 2021 after his failed attempt to obtain GE Aviation’s trade secrets through the recruited engineer. According to Wray, Xu is just “one Chinese intelligence officer working for an entire unit dedicated solely to stealing aviation secrets.”

Wray also spoke about a case involving Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group, to show the devasting effect China’s theft has had on U.S. businesses. According to Wray, U.S.-based firm AMSC, after seeing its proprietary codes on wind turbine stolen by Sinovel, became a smaller company with about 600 fewer employees.

Sinovel was convicted of federal charges in January 2018 for stealing from AMSC, which resulted in losses of over $800 million for the company.

“The Chinese government also makes investments and partnerships to position their proxies to take valuable technology,” Wray added.

The Chinese regime also is known for requiring foreign companies to enter joint ventures with Chinese companies, many of them backed by the communist regime, in order to obtain the foreign firm’s know-how, technology, and intellectual property.

By Frank Fang

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