The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, has called China the “greatest long-term threat” to the United States. He also revealed that almost half of all US counterintelligence cases are related to their Far-Eastern rivals.
Speaking to the Hudson Institute in Washington, Wray said that China has begun targeting Chinese nationals living abroad.
“The stakes could not be higher,” Mr Wray said, according to BBC. “China is engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary.”
In his hour-long speech, Wray claimed that almost half of all counter-intelligence cases are related to mitigating the threat of China’s espionage, data breaches, theft, bribery and illegal political activities.
“We’ve now reached a point where the FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours,” Mr Wray said. “Of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China.”
He also mentioned a program that President Xi Jinping had “spearheaded”, called “Fox Hunt”, which targets Chinese nationals living abroad that are considered threats to the government’s interests.
“We’re talking about political rivals, dissidents, and critics seeking to expose China’s extensive human rights violations,” he said. “The Chinese government wants to force them to return to China, and China’s tactics to accomplish that are shocking.
“When it couldn’t locate one Fox Hunt target, the Chinese government sent an emissary to visit the target’s family here in the United States. The message they said to pass on? The target had two options: return to China promptly, or commit suicide.”
One example of the “Fox Hunt” program came in the form of Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong bookseller, who disappeared in Taiwan in 2015 only to resurface in Chinese custody. Many other similar cases have occurred where “threats” have disappeared from within Hong Kong itself.
Mr Wray’s testimony is yet another example of China’s national security policies coming under fire from outside of the country.