FBI Director Christopher Wray on China: ‘No country presents a broader threat’ to US

Written by on February 1, 2022

No country poses a greater threat to the United States than China, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a sharply worded speech Monday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley, California.

The Chinese Communist Party threatens the United States’ “economic security and our freedoms – our freedom of speech, of conscience, our freedom to elect and be served by our representatives without foreign meddling, our freedom to prosper when we toil and invent,” Wray said.

The director spoke for about 30 minutes in conjunction with the library’s current exhibition, FBI: From Al Capone to Al Qaeda.

To a full house in the library’s Air Force One Pavilion, he said the Chinese government steals “staggering” volumes of information and causes deep, job-destroying damage across a wide range of industries. To counter China’s intelligence operations, the FBI opens new cases about every 12 hours.

“There’s just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, innovation and economic security than China,” said Wray, the eighth director of the FBI who has headed it since 2017.

“Here in the U.S., they unleash a massive, sophisticated hacking program that’s bigger than those of every other major country combined,” Wray told the audience, which included Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko and Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub.

In one such case, he said, a group of criminal hackers associated with China’s intelligence, security and secret police agency, the Ministry of State Security, stole terabytes of data from hundreds of companies.

“They’re not just hacking on a huge scale, but causing indiscriminate damage to get what they want, like in the recent Microsoft Exchange hack, which compromised the networks of more than 10,000 American companies in a single campaign alone,” Wray said.

Whatever makes an industry tick, he said, the Chinese government targets. That includes source code from software companies, testing data and chemical designs from pharmaceutical firms, engineering designs from manufacturers and personal data from hospitals, credit bureaus and banks.

“At the same time, the Chinese government uses intelligence officers to target the same information,” he said. “Within China, they force U.S. companies to partner with Chinese government-owned ones to do business in China, then abuse and exploit those partnerships.”

The Chinese government is also increasingly targeting former Chinese citizens inside the U.S. for personal and political retribution – undercutting the freedoms that the U.S. Constitution and laws promise, Wray said.

“The kinds of people the Chinese Communist Party tends to go after are not those that a responsible government would make their enemies – refugees, dissidents and Uyghurs people with their own ideas, who speak or worship as their conscience dictates,” he said.

The FBI is very focused on the threat from the Chinese government, Wray said.

‘We use our intelligence collection, both what we develop and what we obtain from partner agencies here and abroad, to identify and disrupt threats early,” he said.

That included an FBI operation to shut the backdoors that Chinese government hackers had placed on thousands of American companies’ networks in the Microsoft Exchange campaign, he said.

The FBI also shares what it has learned about the Chinese threat with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies worldwide, domestic military partners and others, Wray said.

And the bureau also has set up cyber and counterintelligence task forces in all its field offices, he said.

“So, we’re confronting this threat and winning important battles … while adhering to our values, Wray said. “I believe that in the course of doing so, we’re showing why the Chinese government needs to change course for all of our sakes.”


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