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China is 'greatest long-term threat' to the US, FBI director Christopher Wray says

08.07.2020 5:30

China is seeking to become the world's only superpower by usurping the United States with a government-directed "campaign of theft and malign influence", the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director said on Tuesday.In a wide-ranging attack on Beijing's behaviour on the world stage delivered at the conservative think tank Hudson Institute, Christopher Wray said that the counter-intelligence and economic espionage threat from China represented the "greatest long-term threat to our nation's information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality".China's "generational fight" to usurp the US was playing out in fields ranging from local politics to industries including aviation, agriculture, robotics and health care, said Wray, accusing Beijing of working to compromise American institutions conducting "essential" Covid-19 research.The charges come at a nadir in US-China relations, with tensions boiling on a number of fronts including the coronavirus pandemic, Beijing's handling of Hong Kong, and treatment of each other's respective journalists.Those spats have come on top of long-standing concerns in the US of a state-orchestrated theft of American technology by China, allegations that in part fuelled the still-simmering trade war that began two years ago.Wray revealed on Tuesday that the FBI opens a new China-related counter-intelligence investigation every 10 hours, and that around half of the bureau's approximately 5,000 open cases relate to China. Investigations into alleged attempts to steal US-based technology by Chinese entities are under way in all of the FBI's 56 field offices."That's not because we're just trying to spread the work around," said Wray. "That's because the threat is all over the country, in rural areas and big cities. And it's in Fortune 100s all the way down to small start-ups."The US Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are preparing to unveil new actions to address the threat from China in the coming weeks, said Wray, a Trump appointee who took over the FBI in 2017.Wray reserved particular criticism for China's "Fox Hunt" operation, an extraterritorial campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping to repatriate individuals to be charged in China for crimes relating to corruption.Though presented as an anti-graft effort, the operation was "a sweeping bid by General Secretary Xi to target Chinese nationals who he sees as threats," charged Wray, who said it violated "established processes for foreign law enforcement to cooperate with each other".President Donald Trump said in April that Beijing would do "anything they can" to thwart his re-election. Photo: Reuters alt=President Donald Trump said in April that Beijing would do "anything they can" to thwart his re-election. Photo: ReutersIn cases where targets were not cooperative, the Chinese government had threatened or even arrested their family members still in China for leverage, said Wray.In one instance, a Chinese emissary told the US-based relatives of a target to pass along a message to the individual, saying the target had two options: "return to China promptly or commit suicide," said Wray, without giving specifics of the case.Wray appealed to anyone in the US who believed they were being targeted by the Chinese government in such a campaign to reach out to their local FBI field office.Beyond economic espionage and extraterritorial law enforcement, Beijing was also actively interfering in US politics, said Wray, alleging that China was targeting US local officials and lawmakers with direct or indirect pressure campaigns to prevent them from travelling to Taiwan."China does not want that to happen, because that travel might appear to legitimise Taiwanese independence from China," said Wray, who suggested that Chinese state actors had threatened retaliation against companies within local officials' constituencies to dissuade them from going to Taiwan.Wray did not provide specific examples of such events, and the FBI declined to comment further when asked for clarification.Asked during Tuesday's event whether the FBI was concerned about the prospect of Chinese interference in the fall elections, Wray said China's "malign foreign influence campaign" was a year-round threat rather than "an election specific threat".Nonetheless, China's attempts to sway US policy had "implications for elections, and they certainly have preferences that go along with that," he said.China has been accused of hacking into US government systems in the past, notably the alleged infiltration of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), acquiring sensitive data on around 20 million US federal government employees.The hack was part of broader attempts by China to "identify people for secret intelligence gathering," Wray said on Tuesday.The data breach also suggested there are possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities heading into the 2020 election, said Nina Jankowicz, a former Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellow at the US State Department who is now disinformation fellow at Washington-based think tank the Wilson Centre.Nina Jankowicz, an expert on Russian disinformation at the Wilson Centre. Photo: Prophet alt=Nina Jankowicz, an expert on Russian disinformation at the Wilson Centre. Photo: Prophet"It would be difficult to hack all of [the US voting systems] at once, but you might not need to hack all of them at once. What you need to do is just cast doubt on to the vote tallying" in one race, said Jankowicz at a Wilson Centre event."Once you've cast that doubt, then people aren't going to trust in the results and we get into a very sticky situation as we're trying to declare a winner."Chinese officials said earlier this year they have no interest in interfering in the fall elections, after Trump said in April that Beijing would do "anything they can" to thwart his re-election."We've made some sparing investments in our election infrastructure, but I think we need to do a lot more," Jankowicz said. "Unfortunately that issue has been politicised, but hopefully we've gotten up to the point where those basic security loopholes are not exploited ahead of the vote in November."Additional reporting by Robert DelaneyThis article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Rapper Kanye West says he no longer supports Trump: Report

08.07.2020 4:24

July 08, 2020 4:24 PM
WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Kanye West no longer supports President Trump, Forbes reported, citing an interview with the American rapper who says he plans to run for president.

From: www.straitstimes.com

The inside story of why Mary Trump wrote a tell-all memoir

08.07.2020 4:01

July 08, 2020 4:01 PM
WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - For most of her life, Mary L Trump was shunted aside by her own family.

From: www.straitstimes.com

High court: Chief justice hospitalized last month after fall

08.07.2020 2:19

WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. suffered a fall at a Maryland country club last month that required an overnight stay in the hospital, a Supreme Court spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday night. The 65-year-old chief justice was taken by ambulance to a hospital after the June 21 incident at the Chevy Chase Club, which was [...]

From: www.seattletimes.com

Second stimulus check from the IRS: Could you qualify? What we know today

08.07.2020 2:00

If the Senate and House come together to approve a second stimulus check, would you get one? That's part of a debate this month in Washington.

From: www.cnet.com

Envoy says US ready to resume talks with North Korea

08.07.2020 0:42

President Donald Trump’s point man to North Korea said Wednesday that the U.S. administration is ready to resume stalled nuclear negotiations despite the North’s repeated claims that it has no immediate intent for dialogue with Washington. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun spoke to reporters following meetings with South Korean officials in Seoul, where they reaffirmed the allies' commitment toward a diplomatic approach in resolving the nuclear standoff with the North but avoided specific answers on what was discussed. The meetings came hours after the North’s state media reported that leader Kim Jong Un visited a mausoleum in Pyongyang to pay tribute to his late grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung on the anniversary of his death.

Washington Redskins: Major retailers drop merchandise

08.07.2020 0:26

The American football team is under increasing pressure to change its name.

From: www.bbc.co.uk

US general sees smaller but enduring troop presence in Iraq

08.07.2020 0:11

WASHINGTON (AP) — Six months after a deadly American airstrike in Baghdad enraged Iraqis and fueled demands to send all U.S. troops home, the top U.S. general for the Middle East is talking optimistically about keeping a smaller, but enduring military presence there. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, met Tuesday [...]

From: www.seattletimes.com

China blackmailing dissenters in US to return home – FBI chief

07.07.2020 23:01

Christopher Wray condemns campaign against ex-pats and says Beijing espionage is ‘greatest threat to US economic vitality’Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, the FBI director has said.In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property and to our economic vitality”, Christopher Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves.Fox Hunt was launched six years ago by President Xi Jinping, ostensibly to pursue corrupt officials and business executives who had fled abroad. Beijing has celebrated its claimed successes, publicising the return of hundreds of economic fugitives, and issuing wanted lists of those still at large. The Obama administration complained about the activities of undercover agents in 2015.Wray said the operation’s principal aim now was to suppress dissent among the diaspora.He told the Hudson Institute in Washington: “China describes Fox Hunt as some kind of international anti-corruption campaign. It is not. Instead, Fox Hunt is a sweeping bid by Xi to target Chinese nationals who he sees as threats and who live outside of China, across the world.“We’re talking about political rivals, dissidents and critics seeking to expose China’s extensive human rights violations.”The FBI director said: “Hundreds of these Fox Hunt victims that they target live right here in the United States, and many are American citizens or green card holders. The Chinese government wants to force them to return to China, and China’s tactics to accomplish that are shocking.“For example, when it couldn’t locate one Fox Hunt target, the Chinese government sent an emissary to visit the target’s family here in the US. The message they said to pass on: the target had two options, returned to China promptly or commit suicide.”Wray said that Fox Hunt operations, directed by China’s ministry of public security, were also under way in other countries, and the FBI had been cooperating with its partners to foil Chinese efforts at intimidation. He said Chinese nationals in the US were often coerced by thinly veiled threats against their families back in China.Asked about other coercive tactics used, he replied: “Use your imagination. You’re not going to be far off.”He appealed to anyone in the US who thought they were a Fox Hunt target to “please reach out to your local FBI field office”.Wray portrayed China as an aggressive rival with little or no regard for international or national laws. He said that nearly half the FBI’s 5,000 active counter-intelligence cases were China-related.“We’ve now reached a point where the FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours,” he said. “Of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China.”China was using leverage, pressure or persuasion through intermediaries on federal, state and local officials, as well as US corporations and media, to win support for Chinese foreign policy positions. Wray said such efforts had been stepped up during the coronavirus outbreak, aimed at generating praise for Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.Although he did not say whether China backed either Donald Trump or his presumptive Democratic rival, Joe Biden, he claimed China was pushing its preferences for the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.“China’s malign foreign influence campaign targets our policies, our positions, 24/7, 365 days a year,” Wray said. “So it’s not an election-specific threat; it’s really more of an all-year, all-the-time threat. But certainly that has implications for elections and they certainly have preferences that go along with that.”The FBI director said that China was also involved in mass hacking, identity theft and intellectual property espionage, and there are 1,000 investigations into “China’s actual and attempted theft of technology” in all the bureau’s 56 field offices.“The people of the United States are the victims of what amounts to Chinese theft on a scale so massive that it represents one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history,” Wray said.He said China was “engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary”. “The stakes could not be higher.”In an interview on Tuesday, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said that the US was considering banning the social media platform TikTok and other Chinese-made apps.India banned TikTok and over 50 other Chinese apps last week, in the wake of clashes on the China-India border in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.“We’re certainly looking at it,” Pompeo told Fox News. “With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right. I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at.”

Mary Kay Letourneau, Teacher Who Abused and Then Married Student, Dies of Cancer

07.07.2020 22:47

Mary Kay Letourneau—who gained tabloid infamy for raping her 12-year-old former student, having children with him, and later marrying him—has died of cancer, her attorneys said.The 58-year-old split from husband Vili Fualaau, now 36, more than a year ago. It was not publicly known that she was ill.“Expected but sad anyway,” her attorney David Gehrke, told TV station KOMO. “She was a good person.”Letourneau was a married mom of four working as a sixth-grade teacher in Washington state in 1997 when she was arrested for sexual contact with Fualaau. The case made headlines around the globe and turned her into a national punchline.She gave birth to their first child shortly before being sentenced to six months as part of a plea deal. Weeks after her release, she was caught with Fualaau in violation of that agreement and tossed back in prison for seven years. She gave birth to their second child, another girl, behind bars.The two began a legal romance after she was released, and they married in 2005—even though Fualaau had unsuccessfully sued the school for failing to protect him from her.“She got out of prison and I asked her to marry me right away,” Fualaau told A&E for a special in 2018. “I knew that my kids would have both their parents in a house and that was something I didn’t have, and I wanted them to have that experience.”She maintained that she didn’t know that having sex with a boy was illegal.“If someone had told me, if anyone had told me, there is a specific law that says this is a crime,” she told Australian TV in 2018. “I did not know. I’ve said this over and over again. Had I known, if anyone knows my personality. Just the idea, this would count as a crime.”The scandalous union hit the rocks in 2017 and they formally separated in February 2019. People magazine said Letourneau struggled after the breakup.“She’s trying to pick up the pieces and move on, but she’s feeling kind of lost,” a source told the magazine in March. “She’s not sure what to do next.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

From: news.yahoo.com

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