FBI Director Christopher Wray urged private companies Thursday to work with the agency to counter China and prevent the Asian country from becoming "the world’s only superpower."
Wray claims China could become the world’s dominant power by amassing intellectual property. The accusation that Beijing steals intellectual property was the primary basis for the Trump administration’s trade war with China, which is continuing under President Biden.
Wray accused China of trying to access information through cyberattacks. "Too often when we see a cyberthreat and start digging, we find that the same adversary is also working with an unwitting company insider to target... sensitive and proprietary information," he said.
The FBI chief also claimed China was using "non-traditional collectors" to gain information in the US, including "businessmen, different kinds of researchers and graduate students, scientists, ostensibly private companies."
He said these private individuals are "effectively under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party, all geared towards a common aim of trying to steal our information to put the Chinese government in a way to become the world’s only superpower."
The idea that the FBI suspects anyone from China of being a spy for Beijing has grave implications for the civil liberties of Chinese Americans and Chinese residents living in the US. The FBI’s campaign has already led to the agency falsely accusing Chinese professors in the US of spying for Beijing.
It’s now common for US officials to claim China is the top "threat" facing the US, but Wray, a holdover from the Trump administration, has been making that claim for years. In 2018, he told Congress that China represents "the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counter-intelligence threat we face."