In an unusual joint address, the heads of the FBI and Britain’s domestic intelligence agency raised new concerns about the Chinese government and warned business executives that Beijing was intent on stealing their technology for competitive advantage.
The FBI director, Christopher Wray, spoke alongside the MI5 director general, Ken McCallum, at an address at MI5’s London headquarters in an effort to demonstrate Western unity. Wray reiterated long-standing worries about China’s economic espionage and hacking activities, as well as its attempts to quell dissent abroad.
The Chinese government, which Wray defined as both of our countries as well as our friends in Europe and abroad, “consistently presents the most long-term threat to our economic and national security,” he added.
The Chinese government, he warned the audience, was “bent on taking your technology, whatever it is that makes your company tick, and utilizing it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”
According to Ken McCallum, MI5 is currently conducting seven times as many investigations into China as it did four years prior, and it plans to “increase as much again” to combat the pervasive inference attempts that permeate “so many parts of our national life.”
According to McCallum, “this is the first time the heads of the FBI and MI5 have shared a public platform.” We’re doing it to convey the strongest message possible about a significant shared challenge: China.
The Chinese government, according to McCallum, is “the most game-changing challenge we face” with its “covert pressure across the globe.”
“This may seem ethereal. But it’s urgent and real,” he remarked. “We should discuss it. We must take action.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, denied the accusations made by the western leaders, telling the Associated Press in an email that Beijing “firmly opposes and combats any sorts of cyber-attacks” and characterizing the charges as unfounded.
According to the statement, “We will never assist, encourage, or condone cyber-attacks.”
When asked about Wray’s remarks during a press conference on Thursday, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said: “The relevant US politician has been playing up the so-called China threat to slander and criticize China. The US poses the greatest threat to global peace, security, and growth, according to facts. We implore this US official to adopt the proper viewpoint, see China’s developments objectively and rationally, and to avoid disseminating false information and making careless remarks.
Wray also mentioned during his address that any forcible takeover of Taipei by Beijing “would represent one of the most terrible business upheavals the world has ever seen,” in reference to the current hostilities between China and Taiwan.
Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence for the US government, stated last week at a gathering in Washington that there were no signs that Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, was preparing to annex Taiwan militarily. She did, however, note that Xi appeared to be “pursuing the potential” for such a move as part of a larger Chinese government objective of reunification with Taiwan.
When asked whether an invasion of Taiwan was more or less likely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after the appearance, Wray replied he would leave that decision to others. But he added, “I don’t have any reason to assume their interest in Taiwan has lessened in any kind,” and he hoped China had learned the same lesson as Russia had about what happens “when you overplay your hand”.
Joseph Biden made one of the most vehement White House remarks in support of Taiwan’s self-government in decades in May when he threatened to use military action if China invaded Taiwan. Later, the White House made an effort to lessen the significance of the remarks by claiming that Biden had not proposed a change in US policy toward Taiwan, a self-governing island that China considers as a renegade province that has to be united with the mainland.
China has “no space for compromise or concession” when it comes to issues involving its territory and sovereignty, the embassy official claimed, adding that the Taiwan problem is “purely China’s domestic matter.”
China “reserves the possibility of taking all necessary actions in response to the intervention of foreign forces,” the statement stated, adding that China would “strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts.”
Reporting was given by the Press Association and the Associated Press.