FBI chief: China threat ‘more brazen’ than ever | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The threat the Chinese government poses to the West is “brazener” and more damaging than ever, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday night, accusing Beijing of stealing ideas and intelligence. American innovation and to launch massive hacking operations.

The speech at the Reagan Presidential Library amounted to a scathing rebuke from the Chinese government just days before Beijing is set to take the world stage by hosting the Winter Olympics. He made it clear that while US foreign policy remains plagued by Russian-Ukrainian tensions, the United States continues to view China as its greatest threat to long-term economic security.

“When we tally what we see in our investigations, more than 2,000 of which are focused on the Chinese government trying to steal our information or technology, there is simply no country that poses a broader threat to our ideas. , our innovation and our economic security than China,” Wray said, according to a copy of the speech provided by the FBI.

The bureau opens new cases to counter Chinese intelligence operations about every 12 hours, Wray said, with Chinese government hackers stealing more personal and corporate data than all other countries combined.

“The evil of the Chinese government’s economic espionage is not just that its companies advance on the basis of illegally obtained technology. While they advance, they push back our businesses and our workers,” Wray said. That harm – business bankruptcies, job losses – built up over a decade into the crush we feel today. industries.

Chinese government officials have repeatedly dismissed the US government’s accusations, with the embassy spokesperson in Washington saying last July that the Americans had “made baseless attacks” and malicious slander on Chinese cyberattacks. . The statement described China as a “strong advocate of cybersecurity”. ”

The Chinese threat is not new, but neither has it diminished over the past decade.

“I’ve talked a lot about this threat since I became a director” in 2017, Wray said. “But I want to focus on it tonight because it has reached a new level – more brazen, more damaging than ever before, and it’s vital — vital — that we all focus together on this threat.

In 2014, the Justice Department indicted five Chinese military officers for hacking into major US companies. A year later, the United States and China announced an agreement at the White House not to steal each other’s intellectual property or trade secrets for commercial gain.

In the years that followed, however, the United States continued to press charges against China related to hacking and espionage. He is accused of Chinese hackers targeting companies developing coronavirus vaccines and launching a massive digital attack on Microsoft Exchange mail server software, and has also blacklisted a wide range of Chinese companies.

In his speech, Wray recounted the case of a Chinese intelligence officer who was convicted of economic espionage for targeting an advanced GE engine that China was trying to copy.

But there have also been some setbacks. Although the FBI director mentioned late Monday that the bureau is working to protect academic research and innovation at US colleges and universities, he did not mention the much-criticized China Initiative.

This Justice Department effort was created in 2018 to counter economic espionage and protect against research theft, but critics have accused investigators of scrutinizing researchers and professors on the basis of ethnicity and to chill university collaboration. Earlier this month, prosecutors dropped a fraud case against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, saying they could no longer meet their burden of proof.

The department is examining the fate of the China Initiative and expects to announce the results soon.

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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