US and UK law enforcement chiefs unite to warn of Chinese spying threat

UK (UK) FBI and MI5 chiefs warned of what they described as a broad Chinese spy threat during a rare joint appearance in London on Wednesday.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and MI5 Director General Ken McCallum detailed the potential calamities before an audience of business leaders and academics, saying China’s efforts to steal technology, maintain Hidden investments and controlling business operations in China extend to companies of all sizes and in all sectors.

“The Chinese government poses an even more serious threat to Western businesses than even many sophisticated businessmen realize,” Wray said.

Wednesday’s appearance marked the first time the leaders of the FBI and MI5 shared a public platform, according to McCallum.

Wray said he wasn’t advising companies to completely avoid doing business in or with China, but he implored companies to “think long term” and work with US and UK intelligence agencies. to better understand the threat and mitigate cyberattacks.

“The Chinese government is determined to steal your technology — whatever makes your industry work — and use it to undermine your business and dominate your market,” Wray said. “And they are determined to use all the tools at their disposal to do so.”

Law enforcement has even caught people affiliated with Chinese companies sneaking into American fields to dig up genetically modified seeds, Wray added.

“Consider that it may be much cheaper to preserve your intellectual property now than to lose your competitive edge and have to build a new one later,” he said.

Wray also expressed fears that China might try to invade Taiwan militarily. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has further raised fears that Beijing is learning lessons for its own regional expansion plans.

Wray argued that an invasion of Taiwan would represent “one of the most horrific trade disruptions the world has ever seen”, warning that the FBI has taken over China’s efforts to shield its economy from possible sanctions.

“In our world, we call that kind of behavior a clue,” he said.

The comments echo a warning from Taiwan’s top trade negotiator, who said last month that a Chinese military attack on the island would hurt the global economy more than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A bulletin released Wednesday by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center issued a similar warning about the threat of Chinese espionage, saying the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under President Xi Jinping has sought to “exploit” the relations between China and government and business leaders at state and local levels.

“PRC influence operations can be deceptive and coercive, with seemingly benign business opportunities or people-to-people exchanges sometimes obscuring PRC political agendas,” he said.

McCallum on Wednesday described the threat as a “decades-long strategic contest,” rather than something that could be dealt with quickly.

“No set of advice can accurately answer every situation: I’m afraid I can’t make it easy for you,” he told business and academic leaders gathered in London. “The answers must lie in combining our unique knowledge of the threats with your unique knowledge of your business.”

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