Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director, Christopher Wray, described the Chinese Communist Party’s huge influence on US intellectual property, the financial sector, & democracy in a recent talk.
“If you are an adult American, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data.”
These very sobering words were expressed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director, Christopher Wray, at a discussion on China’s attempts to influence elections, steal intellectual property, & interfere with the US financial sector, held by Washington D.C.’s Hudson Institute.
This institute, a ‘think tank’ that specialises in analysing US & international economic, security & political issues, streamed the discussion live.
While the fact that Chinese nation state attackers have taken your data may be unsurprising, more of a surprise were some of the nos. Wray revealed about China-related counter-intelligence cases.
Wray told viewers by video that the FBI opens a new case related to China every 10 hours, & that 50% of the circa 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases, about 2,500, relate to China.
He has given rough nos. surrounding counter-intelligence threats before, but not in this detail. Last summer he told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, that the FBI has over 1,000 investigations ongoing involving the theft of intellectual property in particular, & that nearly all of them led to China.
China’s bad behaviour has grown during the pandemic, & much activity is centred around obtaining intelligence from American healthcare institutions & pharmaceutical companies. Over the last 10 years, the agency has seen China related economic espionage cases increase by 1,300%.
People’s Liberation Army
Wray’s speech was a further indictment of China, & by the US govt., particularly Chinese military-backed hackers with the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The US Justice Dept. charged 4 Chinese nationals for 2017’s cyber-attack against credit reporting bureau Equifax in February this year.
In addition, Wray described some incidents from over the years that were ultimately linked to China, including 2014’s Office of Personnel Management hack & 2015’s Anthem hack.
Also examined were China’s “malign foreign influence” operations, efforts to pivot the country’s policies, public discourse, & ultimately “undermine confidence in our democratic processes & values.” While in the US, much talk around foreign influence has revolved around Russia’s efforts to influence the US election, Wray commented that China’s efforts, which mostly rely on bribery, blackmail, & deals, are crafted to shape policy & benefit China.
Finding foreign influence operations has been an FBI objective since 2017, when Wray established a task force, the Foreign Influence Task Force, to identify threats to voting infrastructure, US officials, & ultimately undermine confidence in democracy.
Wray described the FBI’s successes, investigations that have resulted in prosecutions & increased awareness around Chinese espionage threats, but stressed the US needs a “whole-of-society response,” that holds the country’s govt. responsible for breaking US laws.
“China, as led by the Chinese Communist Party, is going to continue to try to misappropriate our ideas, influence our policymakers, manipulate our public opinion, & steal our data. They will use an all-tools & all-sectors approach & that demands our own all-tools & all-sectors approach in response,” Wray concluded.