FBI Director Christopher Wray stated in no uncertain terms that when it comes to threats to the United States in areas such as national security and the economy, China is by far the most serious.
In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, Wray outlined how the Chinese Communist Party is targeting the U.S.
“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, innovation and economic security, our national security, is that from China,” Wray said. “The Chinese government aspires to equal or surpass the U.S. as a global superpower and influence the world with a value system shaped by undemocratic, authoritarian ideals.”
Wray vowed that the FBI is “confronting that threat head on,” citing the recent unsealing of charges against more than a dozen individuals, including Chinese intelligence officers in multiple criminal cases. He described the alleged offenses as “criminal efforts to exert influence right here in the U.S. on behalf of Beijing.”
The FBI director noted that there are “scores of investigations” into threats from China in each of the FBI’s 56 field offices.
Wray specifically pointed to cybercrime, stating that China has been particularly aggressive in that area.
“On the cyber front, China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest by a mile, and they have stolen more of American’s personal and business data than every other nation combined,” he said.
China is not the only country Wray warned about. He pointed to Russia, Iran and North Korea as “growing more aggressive, more brazen, more capable,” and “coming at us from all angles” in order to undermine American democracy, law and national security.
This is on top of threats from terror groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, which Wray said “still aim to inspire, plan and launch attacks” against the U.S. and its allies “both abroad and here at home.”
Wray pointed to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as a point from which such terror organizations have been trying to regain strength. He also observed that the U.S. has had a lesser ability to gather intelligence in Afghanistan since the withdrawal.
National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid noted at the hearing that al Qaeda’s ability to strike the U.S. homeland from Afghanistan is presently “quite limited,” thanks to efforts such as the strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri this past summer.
In response, Wray said as time passes, the U.S. will have a decreased ability to know “what al Qaeda is or isn’t doing in Afghanistan” due to “fewer and fewer good sources of information.”