US and UK leaders warn of Chinese government interference

July 7, 2022
A computer screen full of code

This might feel abstract. But it’s real and it’s pressing. We need to talk about it. We need to act.

FBI Director Christopher Wray talking about the influence of spying by the Chinese government. The FBI director stood alongside London’s MI5 director to warn of the “economic and national security” threat that China poses to Western countries.

Why It Matters: The FBI director gave a speech at London's MI5 headquarters — Great Britain’s domestic intelligence agency — alongside the MI5 director general, Ken McCallum, signaling a united front against Chinese interference. They both emphasized the threat that China poses regarding the hacking and stealing of Western technology.

  • The agencies outlined the Chinese government's threat to domestic and foreign interests. Mr. Wray stated, “We consistently see that it’s the Chinese government that poses the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security, and by ‘our,’ I mean both of our nations, along with our allies in Europe and elsewhere,”
  • What does interference look like? In his speech, Mr. Wray told the audience of mostly business people that the Chinese government is set on stealing your technology — whatever it is that makes your industry tick — and using it to undercut your business dominate your market.” He went on to explain that China conducts government-backed hacking and uses a wide network of intelligence “to gain access to technology it considers important” (WSJ).
  • The FBI opens a new counterintelligence investigation into China about every 12 hours, in which they investigate "human and technical means to gather information about the U.S. that adversely affects our national interests" (ex: spying). MI5 is now handling about 7 times as many investigations regarding suspicious Chinese activity than they were in 2018 (WSJ).
  • The Chinese embassy consistently rejects any allegations regarding their interference. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, said that China “firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks,” and added that the accusations are groundless (Associated Press).
  • Something to Consider: Officials were warning against China’s government itself and not the global Chinese population. Mr. Wray said that Chinese immigrants “are themselves frequently victims of the Chinese government’s lawless aggression.”

US, UK leaders raise fresh alarms about Chinese espionage (Associated Press)

Heads of FBI, MI5 Issue Joint Warning on Chinese Spying (Wall Street Journal)

by Jenna Lee,