‘Coordinated campaign on a grand scale’: US, UK spymasters issue dire warning on Chinese espionage

Micaela Burrow, DCNF

Heads of intelligence agencies in the U.S. and UK warned against a widespread Chinese espionage campaign in a unique joint statement Wednesday.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and MI5 Director General Ken McCallum addressed an audience of leaders in business and academia outside of the MI5 headquarters to rally against what McCallum called a “coordinated campaign on a grand scale.” The two warned of escalating Chinese attempts to steal data and technology from UK and U.S. innovators and disrupt the nations’ economies.

“The most game-changing challenge we face comes from the Chinese Communist Party,” said McCallum.

“The Chinese government is set on stealing your technology—whatever it is that makes your industry tick—and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market,” said Wray, according to The Wall Street Journal. “They’re set on using every tool at their disposal to do it.”

Wray said in February that the FBI opens a new investigation into alleged Chinese espionage every 12 hours, according to NBC News. China represents the “biggest long-term threat” to security for the U.S. and its western allies, Wray said, according to Fox News.

In the address, Wray and McCallum described a swath of avenues through which China is allegedly attempting to gain an economic and intellectual advantage over the west, including cyberattacks, research exploitation at Western universities, internet influence operations and infiltration of Western companies to gain access to trade secrets. McCallum said the FBI stood at the helm of the cyber war against Chinese hackers.

The meeting was the first time heads of the two agencies have shared a public platform and convened in light of a threat that has spanned decades, according to McCallum.

“We’re already seeing a steady flow of cases where critical national interests are engaged – whether that’s technologies with military applications; advanced materials; or data and AI,” said McCallum.

MI5 had doubled its “previously constrained” counterespionage operations against CCP activity and runs seven times as many investigations today than it did in 2018, McCallum said.

China has denied Western accusations.

“China’s technological innovation and development is based on its own investment and efforts. The US is drawing ideological lines in scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation, and this embodies its Cold War mentality,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on June 19, accusing the U.S. of being the “biggest empire of hacking.”

“Director [Wray] frequently discusses this very important issue,” the FBI told The Daily Caller News Foundation, noting Wray’s portion of the address would be published on the website Thursday morning.

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