FBI opens investigation into China every 10 hours, says director

Washington: Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray told US Senate Intelligence Committee members on Wednesday (local time) that the agency is opening an investigation into various Chinese government actions every 10 hours.

“We’re opening a new investigation into China every 10 hours, and I can assure the committee that’s not because our folks don’t have anything to do with their time,” Wray said at the committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing, as reported by The Hill. “We have now over 2,000 investigations that tie back to the Chinese government,” he added.

Wray’s comments came in response to a question from Republican Senator Marco Rubio from the US State of Florida on Chinese and Russian influence efforts.

“I don’t think there is any country that presents a more severe threat to our innovation, our economic security and our democratic ideas. And the tools in their toolbox to influence our businesses, our academic institutions, our governments at all levels are deep and wide and persistent,” Wray said, referring to China.

The Hill reported that the Department of Justice late last year charged multiple individuals for their attempts to threaten, coerce or harass certain residents of the US to repatriate to China, following an FBI investigation.

Eight individuals were charged with conspiring to act in the US as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China, with six of the defendants also facing charges for conspiring to commit interstate and international stalking.

Wednesday’s hearing is the first worldwide threats hearing in two years, after some Trump administration officials refused to participate in 2020, with lawmakers on Wednesday asking a number of questions about threats from China. The hearing comes as in a recent report released warning that Beijing is one of the largest threats to Washington.

“Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang have demonstrated the capability and intent to advance their interests at the expense of the United States and its allies, despite the pandemic. China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas–especially economically, militarily, and technologically–and is pushing to change global norms,” the report said.

As per the report, China’s strategy is to drive wedges between the United States and its allies. Beijing has also used its success in combating the coronavirus pandemic to promote the “superiority of its system.”

The report also predicts more tensions in the South China Sea, as Beijing continues to intimidate rivals in the region.

Under the former President Donald Trump’s administration, ties between Washington and Beijing had deteriorated over issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang, encroachment on the special status of Hong Kong, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency concerning the pandemic and China’s military aggression around the world.