U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray said Chinese businesses building plants near U.S. military bases present “national security concerns.”
Although he didn’t provide specific examples, Wray was likely discussing the proposed Gotion High-Tech electric-vehicle battery plant in Mecosta County, which is sited near the U.S. National Guard’s Camp Grayling in Crawford County.
As reported previously in The Midwesterner, Gotion’s 2022 ESG report explicitly aligns the battery company’s mission with the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda.
“In order to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, welcome the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and further play the leading role in party building work, the company’s party committee will organize in 2022.”
The report continues: “Carried out thematic education activities such as the study of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, red theme education, and love for students” and “Carry out the theme education activities of ‘never forget the original heart, keep in mind the mission.’ Secretary of the company’s party committee and chairman Li Zhen led some party members and the company’s leadership team.”
The planned Gotion manufacturing plant is approximately 100 miles from the Grayling National Guard camp, where Taiwanese soldiers are training to defend their country from a potential Chinese attack.
Wray and four other English-speaking U.S. allied intelligence directors appeared together on Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” telecast with reporter Scott Pelley. The so-called “Five Eyes” agree China “is the greatest espionage threat democracy has ever faced.”
Intelligence leaders from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are issuing a stark warning about China’s corporate espionage that targets the country’s trade secrets. https://t.co/tEhOlckvkb pic.twitter.com/TDcioJswjn— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 22, 2023
Wray called The People’s Republic of China “the defining threat of this generation.”
He continued: “There is no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to our ideas, our innovation, our economic security, and ultimately our national security. We have seen efforts by the Chinese government, directly or indirectly, trying to steal intellectual property, trade secrets, personal data – all across the country.”
Wray said the PRC and its agents are targeting businesses on all sizes from Fortune 100 companies to small startups.
“We’re talking about agriculture, biotech, health care, robotics, aviation, academic research,” he said. “We probably have somewhere in the order of 2,000 active investigations that are just related to the Chinese government’s effort to steal information.”
David Vigneault, Wray’s Canadian counterpart, said the PRC is also actively seeking to spy on companies in Canada.
“We have seen in the past, acquisition of land, acquisition of different companies where you, when you start to dig a little bit further, you realize that it’s, there is another intent,” Vigneault said. “And we have seen and blocked attempt by the PRC to acquire locations near sensitive, strategic assets of the country where we knew that the ultimate purpose was for spying operations.”
Wray added: “We’ve seen a variety of efforts by Chinese businesses, in some cases state-owned enterprises, in some cases ostensibly private companies – attempting to acquire businesses, land, infrastructure, what have you, in the United States in a way that presents national security concerns.”
Concurring with the assessments of Vigneault and Wray was Britain’s MI5 chief, Ken McCallum. He told Pelley that threats from China is the one issue agreed upon by the Five Eyes deserving of public attention.
“I mean, essentially what you have with the Chinese government is the autocracy and oppressive regime of – you know, East Germany combined with the cutting edge technology of Silicon Valley,” Wray said. “And the combination represents a daunting first of its kind threat for the United States and for our allies.”