FBI hypes groundless 'China cyberattack threat' to maximize its own power: experts
Published: Feb 01, 2024 09:11 PM
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo: AFP

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed the groundless accusation made by the chief of the FBI about "China's plan to take down US' domestic infrastructure" in the scenario of the two superpowers going to war over the Taiwan question, with analysts saying that US intelligence and espionage agencies have hyped the "China threat" again and again to maximize their own power to spy on other countries and to strengthen surveillance against the American people.

If US officials and politicians want to keep their country and people from harm, they should try their best to avoid conflict with China and stay away from interfering in China's internal affairs and sovereignty, especially on the Taiwan question, by force, and avoid hyping the topic of a war with China to serve their selfish and nasty business, experts said. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a routine press conference on Thursday that "China firmly opposes and cracks down on all forms of cyberattacks in accordance with law. Without valid evident, the US jumped to an unwarranted conclusion and made groundless accusations against China. It is extremely irresponsible and is a complete distortion of facts."

Wang's remarks were made in response to a question about the FBI director's latest accusation against China. Christopher Wray warned at the US House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the US and China on Wednesday that "China was ramping up an extensive hacking operation" geared at taking down the US' civilian infrastructures such as power grid, oil pipelines and water systems.

Wray claimed that China's intent is to "sow confusion, sap the United States' will to fight and hamper the American military from deploying resources" if China and the US have a military conflict in the Taiwan Straits, according to New York Times.

"The US itself is the origin and the biggest perpetrator of cyberattacks. The US Cyber Force Command openly declared that the critical infrastructure of other countries is a legitimate target for US cyberattacks." Wang said. 

"Since last year, China's cybersecurity agencies have released reports revealing the US government's long-running cyberattacks against China's critical infrastructure. Such irresponsible policy and practices have exposed global critical infrastructure to huge risks. We urge the US to stop its worldwide cyber espionage and cyberattacks, and stop smearing other countries under the excuse of cyber securiy," Wang said.

For money and power

Wray's remarks did not come as a surprise, and the US is the biggest empire of hackers, so this kind of hype can only expose "the darkness inside the heart of those US officials," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"The US officials' purpose in repeatedly hyping the China threat theory groundlessly year after year is very simple - money, money and money, so that they can ask for more funds from the Congress," Song noted. 

Lü Xiang, a US studies expert and research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that "the US has hyped the issue of cybersecurity threat for many years, accusing China and Russia with no hard evidence. In fact, the US is also trying to legitimize its cyberattacks against other countries, so some of their politicians are being paranoid and believe that other countries are just doing the same to the US, but they failed to provide evidence."

US governmental departments such as the Department of Defense, the CIA and the FBI are obsessed with hyping the so-called China threat theory in all issues, and apart from asking for more funds, they are also trying to seek more power, experts said. 

When Wray was delivering his statement to the Congress members, he said "The PRC (People's Republic of China) has a bigger hacking program than every other major nation combined. In fact, if each one of the FBI's cyber agents and intelligence analysts focused exclusively on the China threat, China's hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1," according to the FBI's website. Chinese analysts said this is a typical act of "poor-mouthing" to exaggerate or make up the threat they are facing and to ask for more funds and authority.

"This is the game rule of US politics. The more you hype about threats, the more power and money you will get. Agencies like the FBI will be further empowered if it makes Congress members believe its claim about threats from China, and may even acquire more power to watch on US citizens," Lü said. China-US relations have been sacrificed by those selfish politicians in the process, the expert noted. 

Real thief

Meanwhile, the US has been constantly launching cyberattacks against China's critical infrastructure. The Wuhan Earthquake Monitoring Center, for example, has been targeted.

According to an exclusive report by the Global Times in August 2023, new progress has been made on an investigation into a cyberattack incident targeting the Wuhan Earthquake Monitoring Center affiliated to the city's Emergency Management Bureau, after a joint investigation team formed by the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) and Chinese cybersecurity company 360 discovered malicious backdoor software that showed characteristics of US intelligence agencies.

Based on the infamous record of US cyberattacks against other countries' civilian infrastructures, even including earthquake monitoring centers which affects the lives of huge numbers of civilians, Wray's statement is a typical case of "a thief crying 'stop thief!'," said experts.

In addition, what Wray tried to claim is that China is preparing for cyberattack operations against the US when the Taiwan question, "a major flashpoint between the two superpowers, escalates into a war." However, Chinese experts pointed out that if China and the US go to war over the Taiwan question, it means the US has decided to interfere in China's sovereignty and internal affairs with force and even to invade China, as the island of Taiwan is a part of China.

"In this kind of scenario, Washington will completely abandon its 'one China policy' and decide to go for an all-out war with China to support the secessionist authorities on the island to separate Taiwan from China, so in this case, China has the right to defend itself and launch counterattack against the US' invasion by any means, and the US will definitely pay a horrifically heavy price. If US officials really prioritize the security of their own country, they should try their best to avoid this kind of apocalyptic situation from happening," said a Beijing-based expert on international security who asked for anonymity. 

"Officials and politicians in Washington should try everything they can to stay away from interfering in China's internal affairs, especially on the Taiwan question, and avoid hyping the topic about a war between the two major powers to serve their nasty and selfish purposes," the expert told the Global Times on Thursday.