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, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday.
In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” 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 Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), ostensibly to pursue corrupt officials and business executives who had fled abroad.
Beijing has celebrated its claimed successes, publicizing the return of hundreds of economic fugitives and issuing wanted lists of those still at large.
The administration of former US president Barack Obama complained about the activities of undercover agents in 2015.
Wray said the operation’s principal aim now was to suppress dissent among the diaspora.
“China describes Fox Hunt as some kind of international anti-corruption campaign. It is not,” he told the Hudson Institute in Washington.
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, he said.
“We’re talking about political rivals, dissidents and critics seeking to expose China’s extensive human rights violations,” he 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,” he said.
“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, return to China promptly or commit suicide,” he said.
Fox Hunt operations, directed by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, are also under way in other countries, Wray said, adding that the FBI had been cooperating with its partners to foil Chinese efforts at intimidation.
He said that 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 counterintelligence cases were China-related.
Beijing 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 COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at generating praise for Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
Although he did not say whether China backed either US President Donald Trump or his presumptive Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, he claimed that Beijing was pushing its preferences for the outcome of this year’s US presidential election.
“China’s malign foreign influence campaign targets our policies, our positions, 24/7, 365 days a year,” he 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.”
He 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.
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable