FBI Director Christopher Wray raised a number of issues with China in his January 31 speech at the Reagan Library. He opened with, “Today, we in the United States and the Western world find ourselves in a very different struggle against another global adversary – the Chinese Communist Party.”
He rolled a stat out which cemented his tone, “The number of counterintelligence cases involving China number over 2,000 and on average, the FBI is opening a new case every 12 hours.” He continued, “There is no country that presents a broader, more severe threat to our innovation, our ideas, and our economic security than China does.” This statistic lies in mild contrast and improvement to that provided in July 2020 at a speech at the Hudson Institute where he noted that the FBI was opening a case every 10 hours and had over 5,000 counterintelligence cases open.
CCP’s “Made in China 2025” plan
Wray was not ambiguous when he pointed to the CCP’s “Made in China 2025” plan – highlighting the areas of Chinese interest “robotics, green energy production and vehicles, aerospace, biopharma, and so on. And then—and then, they throw every tool in their arsenal at stealing that technology to succeed in those areas.”
Wray highlighted the various means by which China goes about acquiring technology and advantage. Many of these methodologies have been noted and touched upon previously within ClearanceJobs.
- The recent Ministry of State Security sponsored hackers which compromised approximately 10,000 American companies in one single campaign which targeted Microsoft Exchange.
- The use of intelligence officers, support assets and government officials to spot, assess and make strategic investments on behalf of China. No doubt he was referencing the case of Edward Peng, whose clandestine handling of a U.S. intelligence-controlled asset provided insight into MSS modus operandi on U.S. turf.
- The targeting of U.S. aviation sector, specifically GE Aviation via Xu Yanjun a career MSS intelligence officer who was arrested in Belgium, extradited to the U.S. and tried/convicted. The case which Clearance Jobs highlighted as the number one espionage case of import for 2021.
- He continued how in 2015, which saw a U.S. company plummet in value from a $1.6 billion dollar company to a $200 million dollar company following the theft of technology by a Chinese company, Sinovel. He noted that not only did it cost the company market share, but the company was also reduced in size from 900 employees to 300.
He followed with how China has a desire to keep tabs on dissidents in the United States both through legal and illegal means. One need only recall the case of the New York Police Department officer who was recruited to monitor his community by the Chinese, if one is looking for an example.
Confront the Threat
Director Wray conclude with “So, we’re confronting this threat and winning important battles—not just while adhering to our values but by adhering to our values. I believe that in the course of doing so, we’re showing why the Chinese government needs to change course—for all our sakes. There is so much good we could do with a responsible Chinese government: crack down on cyber criminals, stop money launderers, reduce opioid overdose deaths. But at the FBI, we’re focused on the reality of the Chinese government today.”
The counterintelligence threat from China is real. FSOs need to keep abreast, by requesting frequent briefings from the FBI on the different modus operandi the FBI is seeing as they open, investigate, and prosecute the numerous counterintelligence investigations referenced by Director Wray. In this manner, FSOs may be able to stay up-to-speed.