The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the single greatest cyber and counterintelligence threat to the United States, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, who warned that the regime was targeting every sector of the American economy.
“The biggest threat we face as a country from a counterintelligence perspective is from the People’s Republic of China and especially the Chinese Communist Party,” Wray said during an interview with “60 Minutes” on April 24.
“They are targeting our innovation, our trade secrets, [and] our intellectual property, on a scale that’s unprecedented in history.”
Wray said that the CCP had developed the world’s largest hacking program, and systematically stole more information from American citizens and businesses than every other nation on earth. Those malign efforts, he said, affected every part of the economy and threatened to undermine the stability of the United States.
“They have a bigger hacking program than that of every other major nation combined,” Wray said. “They have stolen more of Americans’ personal and corporate data than every nation combined.”
“It affects everything from agriculture to aviation to high tech to health care. Pretty much every sector of our economy.”
“Anything that makes an industry tick, they target.”
The CCP is currently engaged in a massive espionage campaign against the United States. Several recent lawsuits brought forward by the Justice Department allege Chinese agents targeted American citizens for stalking, harassment, intimidation, and even violence, as part of a broader effort to silence those who speak out about the regime’s human rights abuses.
Such efforts included an alleged attempt to undermine U.S. elections by attacking an army veteran running for Congress, and efforts to stalk and harass an American Olympic figure skater in order to silence her father.
Wray said that the FBI was now opening new China counterintelligence investigations “about every 12 hours.” He said that there were more than 2,000 such investigations currently ongoing, and that all 56 U.S.-based FBI field offices were engaged in the effort.
“It’s a measure of how significant the threat is,” Wray said.
Critics have questioned the Biden administration’s ability to adequately deter such efforts in recent months, given the administration’s decision to terminate the China Initiative, a Trump-era Justice Department program designed to counter just such espionage efforts.
Advocates said that the program unfairly targeted Asian Americans. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said, however, that an internal review found no evidence to support those claims but that it had decided to end the program anyway in order to prevent the “harmful perception of bias.”
Wray said that the FBI was undeterred and would carry out its mission to defend the American people from foreign espionage regardless of circumstance.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to whomever they lead, no matter who likes it,” Wray said.