Beware of Chinese Spying, Heads of FBI, MI5 Warn

Tech is most at risk, directors tell business, education leaders in London
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2022 7:05 PM CDT
Beware of Chinese Spying, Heads of FBI, MI5 Warn
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum, left, and FBI Director Christopher Wray meet at MI5 headquarters in London on Wednesday.   (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

(Newser) – Seeking maximum impact, the heads of the FBI and Britain's MI5 stood together Wednesday to warn of the danger of Chinese espionage. Western technology companies are especially at risk of losing intellectual property, the two told chief executives at Thames House, headquarters of the British domestic security agency, in London, the BBC reports. "The Chinese government is set on stealing your technology—whatever it is that makes your industry tick—and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market," said FBI Director Christopher Wray in the rare joint appearance. "They're set on using every tool at their disposal to do it."

For context, Wray told the group of business and education leaders that the FBI is launching a new counterintelligence investigation into Chinese activities roughly every 12 hours. Ken McCallum, MI5 director-general, said his agency has seven times as many investigations into Chinese activity now as it did in 2018, per the Wall Street Journal. Wray said countermeasures are needed "if we are to protect our economies, our institutions and our democratic values." China's hacking is "a coordinated campaign on a grand scale," McCallum said, adding, "We need to act."

A spokesman for China's embassy in Washington issued a statement Wednesday criticizing “US politicians who have been tarnishing China’s image and painting China as a threat with false accusations." The Chinese government never condones cyberattacks, Liu Pengyu said, accusing the US of large-scale online surveillance. Also Wednesday, the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center separately warned business executives and state and local government officials that they see increasing attempts by China to affect policy-making in the US. The notice said overt and covert means are being used, such as lobbying through front groups and threatening to stifle trade and investment opportunities. (Read more espionage stories.)

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