Wray Says Chinese Hacking and Pressure Put Americans ‘Over a Barrel’

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The Chinese government uses an extensive array of tactics to steal U.S. trade secrets and influence U.S. politics, FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

“All of these seemingly inconsequential pressures add up to a policy-making environment in which Americans find themselves held over a barrel by the Chinese Communist Party,” Wray said Tuesday in remarks to the Hudson Institute in Washington.

He said interference in the U.S. includes widespread cyber espionage, threatening Chinese nationals living in America and co-opting associates of political officials to advance policies that benefit China. China has previously denied using such tactics.

The FBI director made clear that he’s signed on to an escalating Trump administration push against China. He said his remarks will be followed up in coming weeks by Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and the speech was featured live on the State Department’s website.

Wray said a Chinese government initiative called “Foxhunt” is a “rogue law enforcement” operation to suppress dissidents and critics. Chinese officials seek out hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the U.S. and pressure them to return to China, he said.

In one case, he said, a man’s family was told he had only two choices -- return to China or commit suicide.

Wray also offered a time-honored suggestion to anyone who believes they’re being manipulated or threatened by China: Call the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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