In an unprecedented joint address, the heads of the FBI and Britain’s domestic intelligence agency raised new concerns about the Chinese government and warned business leaders that Beijing was determined to steal their technology for competitive advantage.
The FBI director, Christopher Wray, spoke alongside the MI5 director general, Ken McCallum, during a speech 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 allies in Europe and elsewhere, “consistently presents the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security,” he said.
The Chinese government, he warned the audience, was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using 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 “grow as much again” to combat the pervasive inference attempts that permeate “so many aspects of our national life.”
According to McCallum, “today 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, represents “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 said. “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 China “firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber-attacks” and characterizing the charges as unfounded.
According to the statement, “We will never support, 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 smear and attack China. The US poses the greatest threat to global peace, stability, and development, according to facts. We implore this US official to adopt the proper viewpoint, view China’s developments objectively and rationally, and to stop spreading false information and making careless remarks.
Wray also mentioned during his speech that any forcible takeover of Taipei by Beijing “would represent one of the most horrific business disruptions 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 said he would leave that decision to others. But he added, “I don’t have any reason to think their interest in Taiwan has abated in any manner,” and he hoped China had learned the same lesson as Russia had about what happens “when you overplay your hand”.
Joe Biden made one of the most vehement White House statements in support of Taiwan’s self-government in decades in May when he threatened to use military force if China invaded Taiwan. Later, the White House made an effort to lessen the impact of the remarks by claiming that Biden had not proposed a change in US policy toward Taiwan, a self-governing island that China views as a breakaway province that needs to be united with the mainland.
China has “no room for compromise or concession” when it comes to issues involving its territory and sovereignty, the embassy spokesman claimed, adding that the Taiwan issue is “purely China’s internal matter.”
China “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures in response to the interference of foreign forces,” the statement said, adding that China would “strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts.”