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Huawei is a Serial Intellectual Property Thief, Says FBI Director Christopher Wray

Elijah Labby

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Photo of FBI Director Christopher Wray by the FBI

July 7, 2020 — Huawei has repeatedly stolen American technology and is a “serial intellectual property thief,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday.

Speaking in a Hudson Institute webinar, Wray claimed that China severely threatens America’s technology companies and intelligence agencies.

“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property and to our economic vitality is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China,” he said. “It’s a threat to our economic security, and by extension, to our national security.”

Wray also said that the revenue China generated as a result of theft amounts to “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history” and detailed several attempted hacking incidents.

“In 2017, the Chinese military conspired to hack Equifax and made off with the personal information of 150 million Americans,” he said. “We’re talking nearly half of the American population, and most American adults... this was hardly a standalone incident.”

The FBI is currently inundated with Chinese counterintelligence cases, and opening a new case about every ten hours, Wray said.

"Of the nearly five thousand active FBI counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are all related to China,” he added.

Wray also claimed that the Chinese government is interested in stealing American healthcare practices and sabotaging research laboratories working to find a cure for the coronavirus.

“At this very moment, China is working to compromise American healthcare organizations, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions conducting essential COVID-19 research,” he said.

Tools used to perform these attacks include cyberattacks, physical theft and persuading insiders to disclose secret information.

“In May alone, we arrested both Qing Wang, a former researcher with the Cleveland Clinic who worked on molecular medicine and the genetics of cardiovascular disease, and Simon Saw-Teong Ang, a University of Arkansas scientist doing research for NASA,” Wray said. “Both of these guys were allegedly committing fraud by concealing their participation in Chinese talent recruiting programs while accepting millions of dollars in American grant funding.”

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission designated Huawei and ZTE national security threats. The companies are also restricted from receiving funds from the agency’s Universal Service Fund, which provides millions of dollars in telecom infrastructure and development funding.

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