The heads of UK and US security services have made an unprecedented joint appearance to warn of the threat from China.
FBI director Christopher Wray said China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security” and had interfered in politics, including recent elections.
MI5 head Ken McCallum said his service had more than doubled its work against Chinese activity in the last three years and would be doubling it again.
MI5 is now running seven times as many investigations related to activities of the Chinese Communist Party compared to 2018, he added.
The FBI’s Wray warned that if China was to forcibly take Taiwan it would “represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen”.
The first ever joint public appearance by the two directors came at MI5 headquarters in Thames House, London.
McCallum also said the challenge posed by the Chinese Communist Party was “game-changing”, while Wray called it “immense” and “breath-taking”.
Wray warned the audience – which included chief executives of businesses and senior figures from universities – that the Chinese government was “set on stealing your technology” using a range of tools.
He said it posed “an even more serious threat to western businesses than even many sophisticated businesspeople realised”. He cited cases in which people linked to Chinese companies out in rural America had been digging up genetically modified seeds which would have cost them billions of dollars and nearly a decade to develop themselves.
He also said China deployed cyber espionage to “cheat and steal on a massive scale”, with a hacking programme larger than that of every other major country combined.
The MI5 head said intelligence about cyber threats had been shared with 37 countries and that in May a sophisticated threat against aerospace had been disrupted.
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