I spy with my Five Eyes “the world’s biggest hacking” operation. In an explosive interview at the weekend, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned of the risks posed by China’s industrial-scale “technology theft.”
Speaking alongside the other surveillance chiefs of the Five Eyes, he discussed the threats facing major democracies, including the intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Wray refused to pull his punches when describing what was at stake. “You have the biggest hacking program in the world by far, bigger than every other major nation combined,” he told the CBS 60 Minutes program on Sunday.
“[China has] stolen more of our personal and corporate data than every nation, big or small, combined,” he said.
Game of Spies:
- Washington and its allies are locked in a secret surveillance war with Beijing.
- Last week, the heads of the Five Eyes held an “unprecedented” summit at Stanford University in Silicon Valley.
- They “discussed how to better protect new technologies and help Western countries keep their edge over China,” The New York Times reported.
What they said: “[This] unprecedented meeting is because we are dealing with another unprecedented threat. There is no greater threat to innovation than the Chinese government,” Wray said during his Stanford address.
Delve deeper: Mike Burgess, the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, underlined the sheer scale of China’s spying campaign. “[It is] the most sustained theft of intellectual property in human history,” he said.
Between the lines: Ken McCallum, the head of Britain’s MI5, echoed those views. “If you are working at the cutting edge of technology, you may not be interested in geopolitics, but geopolitics is certainly interested in you,” he said.
Big picture: Wray made it clear that “stealing intellectual property” was not just a Wall Street problem. “That’s a Main Street problem. That means American jobs [and] American families. And the same thing for every one of our five countries,” he said.
Alternative view: China’s Foreign Ministry naturally took a sledgehammer to Wray’s comments. “The accusations are groundless and full of slander and smears against China,” spokesperson Mao Ning said at a media briefing.
China Factor comment: The ruling Communist Party has a long history of forcing multinational firms to hand over intellectual property rights as the price of doing business in China. Now, that appears to have morphed into outright high-tech theft.