FBI director Christopher Wray said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday that the bureau has more than 2,000 active investigations that link back to the Chinese government.

Context: Wray said that amounts to a roughly 1,300% increase in terms of economic espionage probes focused on China over the past decade.

Why it matters: He told the Senate Judiciary Committee last July that China is the top counterintelligence threat to the United States, with Russia coming in as the second greatest concern.

  • The FBI director noted on Wednesday that "there's no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to America's innovation, to our economic security and to our Democratic ideas than China does."

Between the lines: Wray said that China is interested in influencing American political thought and policies "to try and shift them in a more friendly pro-China, pro-Chinese Communist Party direction."

  • "Sometimes that gets wrapped up in election issues," he added.

Go deeper

China's influence operations are getting harder to hide

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Beijing's political influence operations — quiet attempts to sway public opinion and policy in foreign countries — are receiving intense scrutiny in the United States.

Why it matters: Scrutiny can bring transparency, which analysts say is key to combatting authoritarian influence.

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Two U.S. aircraft carriers head to South China Sea

On board the USS Ronald Reagan in October 16, 2019. Photo: Catherine Lai/AFP/Getty Images

Two U.S. aircraft carriers—the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz—are heading toward the South China Sea to conduct military exercises just as China is conducting drills in the area as well, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: China claims sovereignty over most of the sea, which other Southeast Asian countries reject, per the Journal. Tensions between the U.S. and China also remain high over trade, the coronavirus pandemic and China's recent effort to exert more control over Hong Kong.

15 hours ago - Health

15 states broke single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.