FBI Director Christopher Wray calls a spade a bloody shovel. At the US Senate Intelligence Committee, he spoke what everyone else was thinking. China is the most concerning counterintelligence threat.

“As I look at the landscape today and over the course of my career … the Chinese counterintelligence threat is more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counterintelligence threat I can think of”.

Asked if it was more so than Russia the answer was, “At present, China and Russia pose the greatest espionage and cyber-attack threat”.

A threat assessment report  from the Office of National Intelligence to the Committee  states for the record (it is a scary read if taken at face value):

China
  • The Intelligence Community is committed every day to provide the nuanced, independent, and unvarnished intelligence that policymakers, warfighters, and domestic law enforcement personnel need to protect American lives and America’s interests anywhere in the world.
  • Our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly use cyber capabilities—including cyber espionage, attack, and influence—to seek political, economic, and military advantage over the United States and its allies and partners.
  • China remains the most active strategic competitor responsible for cyber espionage against the US Government, corporations, and allies. It is improving its cyber-attack capabilities and altering information online, shaping Chinese views and potentially the views of US citizens.
  • China can launch cyber-attacks that cause localised, temporary disruptive effects on critical infrastructures—such as the disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks—in the United States.
  • It is concerned about the potential for Chinese intelligence and security services to use Chinese information technology firms [Huawei and ZTE] as routine and systemic espionage platforms against the United States and allies
  • Chinese intelligence services will exploit the openness of American society, especially academia and the scientific community, using a variety of means.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats added,

“China’s pursuit of intellectual property, sensitive research and development plans … remain a significant threat to the United States government and the private sector. While we were sleeping in the last decade and a half, China had a remarkable rise in capabilities that are stunning. A lot of that was achieved — a significant amount was achieved by stealing information from our companies.”

GadgetGuy’s take: FBI and friends back Trump

There are two significant issues here. First, the US does not trust China – that is clear. But, it also does not trust Russia, North Korea, Iran and country’s affiliated with terrorist organisations.

Second, Trump’s threats to levy a 25% tariff on certain Chinese imported goods goes well beyond any ideological or geopolitical matters. He says it is what is good for the US.

It goes deeper.

Australia, like Canada, is an ‘apprentice power’ so we do not have to do everything the US does. We leave it to bigger players to comment. China is a vital Australian trading partner and we can only speak diplomatically whereas Trump can call it as he sees it.

In Australian media this month there have been substantive anti-Chinese reports

  • China Daily spreading propaganda  
  • There has been much negative press (example) about the Chinese Government funded Confucius Institute raising allegations about influence on academics and researchers. The theme is they threaten academic freedom, conduct surveillance of Chinese students abroad and promote the political aims of China’s ruling Communist Party
  • Chinese propaganda at the movies
  • Chinese links to the Labour Party – let’s not even mention Sam Dastyari et al.
  • Million-dollar political donor Huang Xiangmo now denied an Australian Passport
  • The Chinese Communist Party is waging a covert campaign of influence in Australia –an aggressive form of “soft power”  – and while loyalists are rewarded, dissidents live in fear.
  • How WeChat could be used to influence the elections    
  • The increasing demand to teach the Chinese language in schools. Labor leader Michael Daley has held a press conference exclusively for Chinese media, during which he said more NSW school children should learn Chinese or Mandarin as it would be “good for both our countries”.
  • A further tightening of credit to Chinese house buyers including restrictions to new properties, double stamp duty, and foreign ownership caps
  • A stop Chinese investment in rural Australia petition received 11,000+ signatures in four days
  • A declaration by the FIRB that it no longer believes Chinese Investment was free of Communist Party Control
  • Huawei’s local chairman John Lord said the telecommunications giant had been swept up in a wave of anti-China sentiment after the US filed criminal charges accusing it of stealing American technology and evading sanctions against Iran.
China

It is no coincidence that anti-Chinese sentiment is on the rise here and over the Western World.

The only outlet to present an alternative view was the “World Socialist Web Site” saying, “The media barrage is a warning signal that the political establishment will use the federal election to escalate a pro-war propaganda campaign, aimed at justifying expanding militarism and intimidating social and political opposition in the working class.”

The Threat Assessment report is open to public scrutiny. If taken at face-value it is disturbing.

And, as Donald Trump said in the State of the Union  (6 Feb, 2019)

To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount — reversing decades of calamitous trade policies. So bad. We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end. Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from — but I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us. I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for president Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.

GadgetGuy simply reports this hopefully factual, not fake new, as part of an unfolding vista that could dramatically affect Australia as a US ally and a significant Chinese trading partner.