In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California, FBI director Christopher Wray addressed those in attendance of the “myriad of threats” faced by America from the Chinese government and Communist Party.
“What makes the Chinese government’s strategy so insidious is the way it exploits multiple avenues at once, often in seemingly innocuous ways,” Wray explained.
He remarked that the “Made in China 2025” plan lists 10 broad keys to economic success, including robotics, vehicles and aerospace, and then they “throw every tool in their arsenal at stealing that tech to succeed”.
One case he highlighted in the multiprong strategy was the conviction of Xu Yanjun, who endeavoured to steal aviation-related secrets, including about an advanced engine in GE.
“He was part of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, which is one of their spy services… the engine was one Chinese state-owned enterprises were openly working to copy,” he continued.
Notably, Wray mentioned how Chinese international students and Chinese American students in the US were essentially under threat.
“[There are] menacing violations of our citizens’ and residents’ rights, things like threatening and harassing students at our universities when they exercise their right to free speech,” Wray explained.
“In a recent incident at one Midwestern university, for example, a Chinese American student posted online praise for those students who were killed in the Tianamen Square massacre in 1989.
“Almost immediately, his parents called from China, saying that Chinese intelligence officers had shown up to threaten them because of his post,” Wray continued.
The same student also participated in an online rehearsal for a protest event with other students, and his parents called again saying Chinese intelligence knew about the rehearsal; the student then backed out of the event.
“This is at a major American university, right in the heartland, and that kind of overt harassment is just part of the visible spectrum of the problem,” Wray added.
“Protecting [Chinese Americans and Chinese people] from the Chinese government is top of mind for us”
“I do want to be clear that the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party pose the threat we’re focused on countering – not the Chinese people, and certainly not Chinese Americans, who are so frequently victims of their government’s lawless aggression,” Wray said.
“Protecting them from the Chinese government is top of mind for us,” he continued.
Wray insisted that, on a wider spectrum, the Chinese government still poses a significant threat.
“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,” Wray added.