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FBI director: China poses "multilayered threat"

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. economic and national security is threatened by China's strategic plan for dominance in multiple areas, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in an interview Friday with Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Why it matters: These so-called "generational threats" will shape the future of the U.S., Wray warns.

"They’re going to determine where we stand and what we look like ten years from now, twenty years from now, fifty years from now."
— Christopher Wray tells Richard Haass

The "multilayered threat" from China, Wray says, entails a merging of cybercrime and espionage. China is "stealing innovation" via businesses, universities and organizations, he says.

  • The FBI's economic espionage investigations "almost invariably lead back to China" in most of the 56 field offices and span most industries or sectors.
  • "Put plainly, China seems determined to steal its way up the economic ladder at our expense."

Plus, the increasing dependence of the U.S. on technology makes the country more vulnerable, he adds.

  • "[O]ur ever-expanding use of technology: next-generation telecommunications networks like 5G, the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, cryptocurrencies, unmanned aerial system[s], deep fakes ... I see blinking red right in front of me and right in front of all of us. And we grow more vulnerable in many ways every day."

The bottom line: There needs to be a public-private partnership to share information and resources to prevent these threats, Wray says.