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China working to ‘compromise’ US coronavirus research, FBI chief warns

FBI Director Christopher Wray | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Beijing is the ‘greatest long-term threat’ to Washington, according to Christopher Wray.

China is applying immoral and dangerous methods in its efforts to become the world’s sole superpower, FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. Tuesday evening, Wray said China’s geopolitical actions are a threat to U.S. economic and national security.

“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property — and to our economic vitality — is the counter-intelligence and economic espionage threat from China,” he said.

Echoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s claims that Beijing has availed itself unduly to American wealth, Wray insisted that the problem is not confined to businesses. “It’s the people of the United States who are the victims of what amounts to Chinese theft on a scale so massive that it represents one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history,” he said.

Wray said the FBI is opening a China-related counterintelligence case “every 10 hours,” linking half of the almost 5,000 cases currently underway to actions orchestrated by Beijing. While such activities often involve data theft, he said, U.S. citizens’ health is also at stake.

“At this very moment, China is working to compromise American health care organizations, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions conducting essential COVID-19 research,” the FBI chief said.

Wray also denounced China for its attempt at what he called a “whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary.” While thirst for global power is not in itself a problem, he said, Beijing has been satisfying it through unlawful competition rather than legitimate innovation.

Throughout his one-hour speech, Wray repeatedly said that his warnings were about the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, rather than the Chinese people or Chinese-Americans.

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