The Chinese government’s threat to the West is “more brazen” and impactful than it has ever been, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned on Monday.
During a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Wray slammed the Chinese government for stealing American ideas and innovation just days before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
“When we tally up what we see in our investigations, over 2,000 of which are focused on the Chinese government trying to steal our information or technology, there’s just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, innovation, and economic security than China,” Wray said, according to a copy of the speech reviewed by The Associated Press.
Wray said new cases countering Chinese intelligence operations are opened by the FBI every 12 hours, as Chinese government hackers gather more personal and corporate data than every other country combined.
“The harm from the Chinese government’s economic espionage isn’t just that its companies pull ahead based on illegally gotten technology. While they pull ahead, they push our companies and workers behind,” Wray said. “That harm — company failures, job losses — has been building for a decade to the crush we feel today. It’s harm felt across the country, by workers in a whole range of industries.”
While the Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly denied the U.S. government’s allegations, Wray said the threat has “reached a new level.”
“I’ve spoken a lot about this threat since I became director,” Wray said. “But I want to focus on it here tonight because 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.”
Wray highlighted one recent case in which a spy working for the Chinese Ministry of State Security was convicted by a U.S. federal jury in November for “conspiring to and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.”
Yanjun Xu, the first Chinese intelligence officer to be extradited to the United States to stand trial, is now facing up to 60 years in prison and fines totaling over $5 million. A federal district court judge will determine Xu’s sentence.
According to the DOJ, Xu had used multiple aliases since December 2013 to “target specific companies in the United States and abroad” to obtain information in the field of aviation.
Xu identified experts and attempted to “steal technology related to GE Aviation’s exclusive composite aircraft engine fan – which no other company in the world has been able to duplicate – to benefit the Chinese state.”