FBI chief: Threat from China ‘more brazen’ than ever

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to discuss security threats 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Greg Nash

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Monday that the threat from the Chinese government against the West is “more brazen” than ever.

Wray delivered a sharp rebuke against the Chinese government while speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum to celebrate its new exhibit on the FBI’s history. 

“I’ve spoken a lot about this threat since I became FBI Director,” he said. “But I want to focus on it here, tonight, because in many ways it’s reached a new level — more brazen, more damaging than ever before, and it’s vital — vital — that all of us focus on that threat together.”

While China has grown to become global superpower, it has come to use its capabilities to “steal and threaten, rather than to cooperate and build,” according to Wray.

Last year, the U.S. and Western allies accused hackers connected to China of being behind a hack of the Microsoft Exchange email system. The U.S. said it had “high confidence” that the attack had been carried out by hackers affiliated with China.

The Chinese government shot back at the accusations, with foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accusing the West of ganging up against it and making “unwarranted accusations.”

“This was made up out of thin air and confused right and wrong. It is purely a smear and suppression with political motives,” Zhao said at the time.

Wray said Monday the FBI opens a new counterintelligence operation case related to China about every 12 hours, adding that hackers linked to China’s government steal more personal and corporate data than all other countries combines. 

The FBI director stressed that while the Chinese government poses a threat to the U.S., he was not counting the Chinese people and Chinese Americans among those who the U.S. sought to counter.

Wray also compared the threat from the Chinese Communist Party to that of the Soviet Union decades ago. 

“Now, there are some surface-level similarities between the threat posed by the Chinese government and the historical threat of the Soviet Union: The Chinese government also rejects the fundamental freedoms, basic human rights, and democratic norms we value as Americans,” he added.

However, Wray said the Soviet Union differed from the Chinese Communist Party in its relationship with the U.S. as “we didn’t invest in each other’s economies or send huge numbers of students to study in each other’s universities.”

Tags China China–United States relations Chinese Communist Party Christopher A. Wray Christopher Wray Directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
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