FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday that no country poses more danger to the US than China, and warned threats from the ruling Communist Party have become “more brazen, more damaging” than ever.
In a stern rebuke days before the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Wray said the Chinese government constitutes a threat “to our economic security and to 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.”
In his remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in California, Wray added that malevolent actions by China’s Communist Party “are happening right here in America, literally every day.”
“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.”
According to Wray, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government steals “staggering” amounts of information, causing “deep, job-destroying damage across a wide range of industries — so much so that … we’re constantly opening new cases to counter their intelligence operations, about every 12 hours or so.”
“There is just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, our innovation, and our economic security than China,” he said.
According to the FBI director, Beijing uses an “insidious” strategy of announcing their desire to build up various industries — “like robotics, green energy production and vehicles, aerospace, biopharma, and so on,” as Wray put it.
“And then, they throw every tool in their arsenal at stealing that technology to succeed in those areas,” he went on. “Here in the US, they unleash a massive, sophisticated hacking program that is bigger than those of every other major nation combined. Operating from pretty much every major city in China, with a lot of funding and sophisticated tools, and often joining forces with cyber criminals, in effect, cyber mercenaries.”
Wray singled out the breach of Microsoft Exchange email service software by China-backed hackers in early 2021 that installed ransomware on the servers of about 30,000 companies worldwide and exposed the private information of tens of thousands of Americans.
“Think about that. They’re not just hacking on a huge scale but causing indiscriminate damage to get to 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.
He also contrasted the dangers posed by China with those presented by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
“The Soviet Union didn’t make much that anyone in America wanted to buy. We didn’t invest in each other’s economies or send huge numbers of students to study in each other’s universities,” Wray said.
“The US and today’s China are far more interconnected than the US and the old USSR ever were, and China is an economic power on a level the Soviets could never have dreamed of being.”