What China’s rulers want

The FBI director understands; many business leaders do not.

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo by Gil Corzo/Shutterstock.
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo by Gil Corzo/Shutterstock.
Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), as well as a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

Bipartisanship is rare in Washington these days. Christopher Wray is an exception—sort of. President Trump nominated him as FBI director but soon soured on him and would have fired him had Attorney General William Barr not threatened to resign should that occur.

Joe Biden, upon becoming president, accepted a recommendation from the FBI Agents Association that Wray continue his 10-year term for “the stability, credibility, and integrity of the Bureau.”

Director Wray is now energetically addressing what may be the most significant threat to America’s national security. Others—on a bipartisan basis—are failing even to comprehend the threat. More on that in a moment.

Last week, Wray was in London to meet with Ken McCallum, Director General of MI5, Britain’s domestic security service. The two men spoke to a gathering of business leaders at Thames House, MI5’s headquarters.

McCallum observed: “The widespread Western assumption that growing prosperity within China and increasing connectivity with the West would automatically lead to greater political freedom has been shown to be plain wrong.” The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he added, “is interested in our democratic, media and legal systems. Not to emulate them, sadly, but to use them for its gain.”

The CCP and the Chinese government, Wray added, pose “the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security, and by ‘our,’ I mean both of our nations, along with our allies in Europe and elsewhere.”

He stressed that the problem is not “the Chinese people, and certainly not Chinese immigrants in our countries—who are themselves frequently victims of the Chinese government’s lawless aggression.”

China’s rulers, however, are “set on stealing your technology—whatever it is that makes your industry tick—and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market,” he said.

China’s Ministry of State Security, active in industrial and cyber espionage, targets companies “everywhere, from big cities to small towns—from Fortune 100s to startups.”

The FBI has “caught people affiliated with Chinese companies in the U.S. heartland sneaking into fields to dig up proprietary, genetically modified seeds which would have cost them nearly a decade and billions in research to develop themselves,” said McCallum.

Wray added: “And those efforts pale in comparison to their lavishly resourced hacking program, that’s bigger than that of every other major country combined.”

He noted that even Chinese companies that appear to be independent are, effectively, owned by the CCP, while others “are required to host a Communist Party cell to keep them in line.” Both the MSS and the People’s Liberation Army are “like silent partners.”

China’s rulers “identify key technologies needed to dominate markets, like the ones they highlight in their ‘Made in China 2025’ plan,” he said. “Then, they throw every tool in their arsenal at stealing those technologies—causing deep, job-destroying damage across a wide range of industries, like when they tried to steal cutting-edge jet engine technology, recruiting an insider at GE’s joint venture partner to enable access by hackers back in China.”

China’s rulers, said Wray, have even interfered in a congressional election in New York, including suggesting that a disfavored candidate “be struck by a vehicle and making it look like an accident.”

Repression, not just at home but also in free countries such as the United States and Britain, “is part of how the Chinese government tries to shape the world in its favor,” he added.

And last November, “the Chinese embassy warned U.S. companies that, if they want to keep doing business in China, they need to fight bills in our Congress that China doesn’t like,” he said.

In other words, they are instructing American businessmen to act as their lobbyists and agents.

Which brings me to Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, a titan of the American business community who last week published in The Wall Street Journal an op-ed titled: “We Want to Rebuild U.S. Relations with China.”

He announced that he is now heading “a small group of senior U.S. business and policy leaders who have experience in China and share the view that we would be better served by having a more constructive relationship with China”—one “based on mutual respect and understanding.”

Among the distinguished members of this bipartisan coalition are Max Baucus, former U.S. ambassador to China; William Cohen, former secretary of defense; and Carla Hills, former U.S. trade representative.

They are “confident that like-minded people in China would embrace the opportunity to work together to find solutions.”

Let me be clear: I don’t think that Greenberg and his colleagues are taking orders from Beijing.

I do find it puzzling that they appear so little troubled by the brutal persecution of China’s ethnic and religious minorities, the stripping of the rights of the people of Hong Kong in violation of specific treaty obligations, the continuing threats against Taiwan and the use of debt-trap diplomacy to achieve imperialist goals in vulnerable third world countries.

The men who hold all the power in China are anti-American neo-Maoists. Their policies, in addition to those outlined by Wray, include “military-civil fusion,” the acquisition, including by theft, of technology from America and other Western countries that can be used against American troops in any future conflict.

Does that sound “like-minded” to you?

Final note: Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China, said Wray’s remarks reveal a “Cold War mentality.”

Perhaps that’s the appropriate mentality for Americans—government officials and business leaders, Republicans and Democrats—to have so long as China’s rulers are so clearly waging a Cold War against us.

Clifford D. May is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), and a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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