Feb 2, 2022 - World

FBI director: No country poses a more severe threat than China

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, January 31
FBI Director Christopher Wray at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, on Monday. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI is launching roughly two China-related counterintelligence investigations about every 12 hours, Bureau director Christopher Wray told NBC News in an interview published Tuesday.

Why it matters: Wray is increasingly sounding the alarm on the threat posed by China's government even as Russian troops amass at Ukraine's border, indicating that he believes the Chinese Communist Party is the biggest threat to the economic security of the U.S. in the long term.

  • "There is no country that presents a broader, more severe threat to our innovation, our ideas and our economic security than China does," Wray said in his interview.

The big picture: Wray's comments build on his speech in California on Monday during which he said China's government was getting "more brazen" in economic espionage and other efforts to disrupt the U.S.

  • In echoes of remarks he made in 2020, Wray said over 2,000 FBI investigations were "focused on the Chinese government trying to steal our information or technology, there's just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, innovation, and economic security than China."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Wray's remarks come as the Justice Department's China Initiative faces intense scrutiny after it targeted Chinese American scientists later cleared of wrongdoing. Wray seems to be defending the China Initiative's emphasis on economic espionage without saying so explicitly.

Go deeper: CIA forms special unit focused on China

Go deeper