FBI and MI5 leaders jointly warn against Chinese espionage | Espionage


The head of the FBI and the leader of Britain’s domestic intelligence delivered an unprecedented joint speech that has raised new alarms about the Chinese government, warning business leaders that Beijing is determined to steal its technology for competitive advantage.

In a speech at MI5’s London headquarters, intended as a show of Western solidarity, FBI Director Christopher Wray stood next to MI5 Director General Ken McCallum. Wray reaffirmed his longstanding concerns about economic espionage and hacking operations by China, as well as the Chinese government’s efforts to quell dissent abroad.

“We consistently see that it is the Chinese government that poses the greatest 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,” Wray said.

He told the audience that the Chinese government was “determined to steal your technology, whatever it is that drives your industry, and use it to undermine your business and dominate your market”.

Ken McCallum said MI5 conducted seven times as many investigations into China as four years ago and planned to “grow that much again” to address the widespread inference efforts that permeate “so many aspects of our national life.”

“Today is the first time the heads of the FBI and MI5 have shared a public platform,” McCallum said. “We’re doing this to send the clearest signal we can on a huge shared challenge: China.”

McCallum said the Chinese government and its “secret pressure around the world” amounted to “the most groundbreaking challenge we face.

“This may feel abstract. But it’s real and it’s urgent,” he said. “We need to talk about it. We have to act.”

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, dismissed Western leaders’ allegations, saying in an emailed statement to the Associated Press that China “firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber-attacks” and calls the allegations unfounded.

“We will never encourage, support or approve cyber-attacks,” the statement said.

In a nod to the current tensions between China and Taiwan, Wray also said during his speech that any forced takeover of Taipei by Beijing would be “one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen”.

Last week, Avril Haines, the director of the US government’s national intelligence agency, said at an event in Washington that there was no indication that Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, was about to take Taiwan by military force. But those who did say Xi “pursued the potential” for such action as part of the Chinese government’s broader goal to reunite with Taiwan.

After the appearance, Wray said he would leave the question of whether an invasion of Taiwan was more or less likely after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to others. But, he said, “I have no reason to believe that their interest in Taiwan has diminished in any way,” adding that he hoped China had learned what happens “when you overplay your hand,” such as he said in Russia.

Joe Biden said in May that the US would respond militarily if China invaded Taiwan, with one of the strongest White House statements in support of Taiwan’s self-government in decades. The White House later tried to mitigate the impact of the statement, saying Biden was not outlining a change in US policy toward Taiwan, a self-governing island that China sees as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland.

The embassy spokesman said the Taiwan issue was “purely China’s internal affair” and said the country has “no room for compromise or concessions” when it comes to issues over China’s territory and sovereignty.

“We will pursue the prospect of peaceful reunification with the utmost sincerity and effort,” the statement said, although it noted that China “would retain the ability to take all necessary measures in response to interference from foreign forces.”

The Associated Press and Press Association has reported

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