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White House Says China Guilty of ‘Massive’ Intellectual Property Theft, FBI Vows Crackdown

February 7, 2020 by Kate Michael
White House Says China Guilty of ‘Massive’ Intellectual Property Theft, FBI Vows Crackdown
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2019, file photo, senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, talks with national security adviser Robert O'Brien as President Donald Trump speaks at a news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON – National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told a gathering of world ambassadors this week that China has engaged in a “massive theft” of Intellectual property from the U.S., complicating diplomatic relations and making events like the recent trade dispute between the two countries more difficult to resolve.

In a separate speech on Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray amplified O’Brien’s comments, telling a gathering at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies that China poses a “diverse and multilayered threat” to U.S. interests.

Speaking separately at a conference Thursday morning, each explained how China’s “Made in China 2025” goal puts the country at risk with state-sponsored espionage efforts across U.S. industries.

“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,” he said.


Wray added that China was aggressively exploiting U.S. academic openness to steal technology, using “campus proxies” and establishing “institutes on our campuses.”

He went on to say the ongoing threat needed to be dealt with through action across the whole of the U.S. government.

U.S. officials have said in the past that China has made it a priority to steal U.S. aircraft and electric vehicle technology, and that the annual cost of these thefts approaches $600 billion.

Given the stakes, U.S. authorities have stepped up their efforts to root out Chinese espionage operations here and abroad.


In 2019, for instance, the U.S. arrested and expelled two Chinese diplomats who allegedly drove onto a military base in Virginia.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 55, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring with Chinese intelligence agents starting in 2010, after he left the CIA. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison after prosecutors detailed a long financial paper trail they said showed that Lee received more than $840,000 for his work.

Also in May, another C.I.A. case officer, Kevin Patrick Mallory, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling classified documents to a Chinese intelligence officer for $25,000.

Speaking to ambassadors  at the Meridian International Center, a foreign policy think tank, Wednesday morning, O’Brien admitted the rise of China and the heightened role both it and Russia are playing in global affairs is a concern,

“We need to focus on great power competition,” he said.

O’Brien, who assumed his position in September and is President Donald Trump’s


fourth national security adviser in three years, did offer an olive branch of sort, saying the U.S. wants to have “a great relationship” with both countries.

But he also acknowledged the “president believes in peace through strength and so do I … Weakness is provocative and encourages bad actors,” he said.

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