Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, said China wanted to steal U.S. technology by “any means necessary” and that there are about 1,000 related investigations currently ongoing in the country, through its 56 regional offices, according to a report by Reuters.
Wray was speaking at the Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, and he said the economic danger from China was “diverse and multilayered.”
“As I stand here talking with you today, the FBI has about 1,000 investigations involving China’s attempted theft of U.S. based technology in all 56 of our field offices and spanning just about every industry sector,” Wray said.
William Evanina, a senior U.S. counterintelligence official, said China was especially trying to steal U.S. airplane and electric vehicle technology.
At the end of 2018, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said it was going to charge two Chinese nationals for a hacking campaign that affected multiple companies and the military, including 100,000 members of the U.S. Navy.
Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong were both accused of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. While the men were indicted, they are still at large.
The men operated under a hacking group called “Advanced Persistent Threat 10,” or “APT10.” It also had other names, including “Stone Panda” and “Red Apollo.” They worked with the Chinese government, the DOJ said.
“China will find it difficult to pretend that it is not responsible for this action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at the time.
High-profile targets like the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory were mentioned in the indictment.
They also targeted “the personally identifiable information of more than 100,000 Navy personnel.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released a joint statement at the time that said the alleged hacks “present a very real threat to the economic competitiveness of companies in the United States and around the globe.”