Heads of MI5, FBI jointly warn of growing threat from China

July 6 (Reuters) – The heads of MI5 and FBI warned of China’s growing long-term threat to UK and US interests, in their first joint action on Wednesday.

Ken McCallum, director general of MI5, said the agency “has already more than doubled our previously limited efforts against Chinese activity of concern”, adding that it carried out seven times as many investigations as in 2018.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Chinese government poses “the greatest long-term threat” to economic and national security, to the UK, the US and allies in Europe and elsewhere.

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“The Chinese government is trying to shape the world by interfering in our politics (and those of our allies, I should add),” said Wray, who said Beijing had intervened directly in a congressional election in New York this year because it does not want to be elected a candidate who was a critic and former protester in Tiananmen Square.

Wray warned that the Chinese government poses “an even greater threat to Western companies than even many sophisticated businessmen realize”, and “plans to steal your technology”.

The Chinese government’s hacking program is “larger than any other major country combined,” Wray said.

In the past year, the UK has shared intelligence with 37 countries to help them defend themselves against cyber espionage, McCallum said, adding that in May they disrupted a sophisticated threat targeting critical space companies.

Speaking of Taiwan, which China considers a province, Wray said China could try to take it over by force and if it did, “it would be one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen.”

“The widely held Western assumption that growing prosperity in China and increasing connectivity with the West would automatically lead to greater political freedom has, I fear, proved completely false,” McCallum said.

“The allegations against China by US and British intelligence officials are completely unfounded and the so-called cases they list are pure shadow hunting,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the UK said, in response to a question about McCallum’s comments. and Wray.

The spokesman said China urged both countries to “have a clear understanding of the trend of the time, to abandon the Cold War mentality that has long been obsolete, to stop spreading “China threat” and to stop creating confrontations and conflicts.”

Speaking at MI5’s headquarters in London’s Thames House, both heads of security gave numerous examples of issues related to China, asking audiences, including businessmen and academics, to exercise caution and encouraging them to work together. to work with the FBI and MI5 so that they have the appropriate information about this threat.

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Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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