FBI Director: Chinese Communist Party’s Society-Wide Theft Is Major Threat to USA

By Kitty Wang

The FBI’s director said that the U.S.’s biggest threat is China’s “Whole-of-society Approach” to stealing American innovation.

Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations on Friday, April 26, Christopher Wray said, “Put plainly, China seems determined to steal its way up the economic ladder, at our expense.”

He said China targets U.S. innovation, research and development, and technology. It aims to use traditional and nontraditional espionage to steal economic and technological information, and that this is now the U.S.’s most serious threat.

“China has pioneered a societal approach to stealing innovation in any way it can—from a wide array of businesses, universities, and organizations. They are doing it through Chinese intelligence services, through state-owned enterprises, through ostensibly ‘private’ companies, through graduate students and researchers, through a variety of actors all working on behalf of China,” Wray said.

Cases of China-related economic espionage have been observed in all 56 FBI field offices, and cover almost all industries and sectors.

Wray said the United States is not the only goal of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “They’re strategic in their approach,” he said. “They actually have a formal plan set out five-year increments to achieve dominance in critical areas. And to get there, they are using an expanding set of nontraditional methods—both lawful and unlawful—so, weaving together things like foreign investment and corporate acquisitions, together with cyber intrusions and supply chain threats.”

A new round of high-level trade talks is happening this week between China and the United States. Technological and intellectual property theft is at the core of the negotiations.