China Horn ‘more brazen, more damaging than ever before’

China ‘more brazen, more damaging than ever before’ says FBI director

No country presents a broader threat to American economic security, says Christopher Wray

Hackers targeted US nuclear weapons agency in massive cybersecurity breach

The threat to the US from China has reached a new level, becoming “more brazen [and] more damaging than ever before”, FBI director Christopher Wray said in a scathing rebuke to Beijing on the eve of the Winter Olympics Games.

Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California on Monday, the director of the FBI accused the Chinese government of stealing “staggering” volumes of information, causing job-destroying damage across a wide range of industries.

He said the FBI is opening a new case every 12 hours or so on Chinese hacking operations, with Chinese hackers trying to steal more American personal and corporate data than all other countries combined.

No other country in the world presents a broader threat to the US than China, Mr Wray warned.

His remarks made clear that even as the US currently remains consumed by Russia-Ukraine tensions, Washington continues to regard Beijing as its biggest threat to economic security.

“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,” Mr Wray said.

The stinging rebuke of the Chinese government was delivered to a full-house audience in the library’s Air Force One Pavilion in an event held for the library’s current exhibition “FBI: From Al Capone to Al Qaeda”.

FBI director Christopher Wray (R) speaks at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, 31 January, 2022. 

China has been long accused by the West of carrying out “systematic cyber sabotage” on a massive scale. Last year, the British government called out China for using criminal hacking groups for spying, data theft, blackmailing businesses and targeting political opponents.

“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,” Mr Wray said.

Meanwhile, in a separate attack aimed at China which also came on Monday, hedge-fund billionaire George Soros described president Xi Jinping as the  “greatest threat” to open society in the world.

He warned businesses against investing in China, arguing the country is facing an economic crisis following a decline in its real estate boom last year.

Chinese government officials have previously rejected accusations of attempts to steal technology and data from the US.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said last July that Americans have “made groundless attacks” and malicious smears about Chinese cyber attacks. The statement described China as a “staunch defender of cybersecurity”.

Mr Wray said the threat from China was not new, and that he has been raising concerns about it since he became FBI director in 2017.

“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,” he said.

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