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Thursday, 15 April 2021

FBI director Christopher Wray tells Senate we 'open an investigation into China every 20 minutes' and there are 20,000 active probes on China

 FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Wednesday that his agency is opening an investigation into various Chinese activities every 10 hours.

'We're opening a new investigation into China every 10 hours, and I can assure the committee that's not because our folks don't have anything to do with their time,' Wray told members of the Senate Intelligence committee during its annual 'Worldwide Threats' hearing.

'We have now over 2,000 investigations that tie back to the Chinese government,' he added.


At the hearing, U.S. spy agency leaders said that China is an 'unparalleled' priority, citing Beijing's regional aggression and cyber capabilities.

'I don't think there is any country that presents a more severe threat to our innovation, our economic security and our democratic ideas,' Wray said, referring to China. 'And the tools in their toolbox to influence our businesses, our academic institutions, our governments at all levels are deep and wide and persistent.'

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines agreed. 

'Given that China is an unparalleled priority for the intelligence community, I will start with highlighting certain aspects of the threat from Beijing,' she said.

She described China as increasingly 'a near-peer competitor challenging the United States in multiple arenas.'

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that his agency is opening an investigation into various Chinese activities every 10 hours and they have over 20,000 in process

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that his agency is opening an investigation into various Chinese activities every 10 hours and they have over 20,000 in process

FBI Director outlines the many threats posed by China to US
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The harsh words on China comes amid an uptick of hate crimes against Asian Americans.

“As we grapple with the challenges posed by a rising China, our problem is with the Chinese Communist Party, not with the people of China or the Chinese diaspora globally, and certainly not with Asian Americans here in the United States,” Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said at the start of the committee's hearing.

Other threats were mentioned in the public portion of the hearing. 

Haines also cited Russian efforts to undermine U.S. influence, Iran's contribution to instability in the Middle East, global terrorism and potential North Korean efforts to 'drive wedges' between Washington and its allies as significant threats.

The appearance by Haines and the other intelligence directors was the first such public 'Worldwide Threats' hearing since January 2019.  The committee brought the spy chiefs again in the afternoon for a closed-door session.

Former President Donald Trump, who often clashed with security agencies, did not send officials last year to testify at what is normally an annual event.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the committee's chairman, said he was 'dismayed' there had been no hearing last year.

Much of the hearing focused on technology - the threat from hacking, the importance of leading-edge development and the malign influence of social media.

'Today's technology environment allows adversaries to wreak havoc,' panel Republican Vice Chairman Marco Rubio said.

Warner noted the effort Beijing had put into making the Chinese firm Huawei a leader of advanced 5G systems, and said he was concerned it might make similar efforts in other emerging technologies.

Noting the dangers of international computer hacking like the recent SolarWinds attack, Warner said: 'We may also want to develop new international norms where certain types of attacks are prohibited, just as the use of chemical or bio-weapons is banned.'

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies alongside CIA Director William Burns, Director Avril Haines of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Paul Nakasone during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence annual hearing about worldwide threats

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies alongside CIA Director William Burns, Director Avril Haines of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Paul Nakasone during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence annual hearing about worldwide threats

The US intelligence chiefs agreed that China, led by President Xi Jinping, is an 'unparalleled' priority, citing Beijing's regional aggression and cyber capabilities

The US intelligence chiefs agreed that China, led by President Xi Jinping, is an 'unparalleled' priority, citing Beijing's regional aggression and cyber capabilities


Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, National Security Agency Director General Paul Nakasone and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Scott Berrier also testified.

Burns said nearly a third of the CIA's workforce is focused on cyber issues.

Nakasone and Wray said intelligence agencies could benefit from more information from companies about cyber threats, but did not directly endorse calls from some members of Congress for legislation that would demand more of firms like Facebook and Twitter.

Wray said social media has become 'the key amplifier' to domestic violent extremism and malign foreign influence. 'The same things that attract people to it for good reasons are also capable of causing all sorts of harms,' Wray said.

U.S. intelligence agencies on Tuesday released a sweeping report on global threats. Disease, the rich-poor gap, climate change and conflicts within and among nations will pose greater challenges, with COVID-19 already worsening some of those problems, the report by the National Intelligence Council said.

The intelligence chiefs are due to testify at a second Worldwide Threats hearing, before the House Intelligence committee, on Thursday.

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