FBI Director Christopher Wray on June 23 singled out Beijing as the biggest threat to the United States, revealing that the law enforcement agency currently has more than 2,000 active investigations that trace back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Wray told Fox News that over the past decade there has been a roughly 1,300 percent increase in economic espionage probes with links to the Chinese regime. He accused the CCP of trying to interfere in U.S. politics and of spying on Fortune 100 companies—the top 100 companies in the country as ranked by their employees.
“There’s no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to America’s innovation, to our economic security, and to our democratic ideas than China does,” Wray told Fox News’s Breit Baier in an interview that aired Wednesday.
“The FBI has over 2,000 active investigations that trace back to the government in China,” Wray said, claiming that the bureau is “opening a new counterintelligence investigation that ties back to China every 10 hours.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) in late 2018 launched the “China Initiative” program to crack down on state-sponsored theft of U.S. trade secrets and Beijing’s foreign influence activities.
He noted that the CCP’s campaign of “economic espionage” relies not just on traditional government officials, but also on “nontraditional collectors” such as “businessmen, high level scientists, high-level academics,” who are incentivized to steal sensitive information, U.S. technology and innovation to bring back to China.
“It’s everything from Fortune 100 companies to startups. It’s agriculture, it’s high tech, it’s aviation, it’s healthcare,” he said.
“This is not about the Chinese people or Chinese Americans,” Wray emphasized. “This is about the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.”
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while the price of Alibaba Group’s initial price offering (IPO) is decided, in New York City on Sept. 19, 2014. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Wray previously told a conference hosted by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank that the economic threat from China was “diverse and multilayered,” noting that the bureau was, as of February, conducting roughly 1,000 investigations into China’s attempted theft of trade secrets.
Every FBI field office was working on trade-secret theft cases involving China, with potential victims spanning almost every sector and industry, he said in February.
The DOJ and the FBI’s initiative to counteract the offensive by the CCP has, in recent months, ramped up to a historic scale. According to a review of DOJ press releases, the department has brought more indictments related to Chinese infiltration since 2019 than during the entire eight years of the Obama administration.
John Brown, an assistant director at the FBI, during a Feb. 6 conference echoed Wray’s remarks that no country poses a greater threat to the United States at present than “communist China.”
“From our vantage point, the United States has not faced a similar threat like this since the Soviet Union and the Cold War,” Brown said.
The CCP made its ambitions public five years ago upon the announcement of its “Made in China 2025” plan, a whole-of-society push to make China the world leader in information technology, robotics, green energy, aerospace, and other industries. According to senior U.S. officials, China’s progress toward the goal has primarily relied on theft of innovation from the United States.
Wray added that the CCP is attempting to interfere with U.S. politics, by trying to “shift them in a more friendly pro-China, pro-Chinese Communist Party direction.”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.