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National Security & Defense

FBI Director: China Is Bigger Counterintelligence Threat Than Russia

FBI Director Christopher Wray at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 2, 2018. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

FBI director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that China trumps Russia as a counterintelligence threat to the U.S.

“China in many ways represents the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counterintelligence threat we face,” Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “Russia is in many ways fighting to stay relevant after the fall of the Soviet Union. They’re fighting today’s fight. China’s is fighting tomorrow’s fight.”

Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Committee that China is trying to sway political affections in the U.S. but has not actually hacked into election systems.

“China absolutely is . . . exerting unprecedented effort to influence American opinion,” Nielsen said. “We have not seen to date any Chinese attempts to compromise election infrastructure.”

The senators’ questions on Chinese intelligence activity come after President Trump accused Beijing last month of attempting to meddle in U.S. elections to his detriment.

“China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration,” the president said at a U.N. Security Council meeting.

The two superpowers have butted heads of late in an escalating trade war, with China accusing the U.S. of “bullying” tactics.

“China doesn’t want a trade war, but would rise up to it should it break out,” Chinese minister for commerce Zhong Shan said Tuesday in a statement. “There is a view in the US that so long as the US keeps increasing tariffs, China will back down. They don’t know the history and culture of China. This unyielding nation suffered foreign bullying for many times in history, but never succumbed to it even in the most difficult conditions.”

“It’s been a one-way street for 25 years. We’ve got to make it a two-way street. We’ve got to benefit also,” Trump told reporters Tuesday of China’s trade relationship with the U.S.

The Trump administration has thus far imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, and China has reciprocated with tariffs on $110 billion in American products.

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