China’s influencing environment against the west are concerning as Russian subversion.
Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA told the Chinese “have a much bigger footprint” to do this than the Russians do.
As an instance he has cited efforts to steal US commercial information and infiltration of schools and hospitals – and this extended to Europe and the UK.
Last year, a former CIA officer was arrested China on charges of retaining classified information in a case thought to be connected to the dismantling of the agency’s spy operations.
About a couple of years before Jerry Chun Shing Lee’s arrest cited some 20 informants had been killed or jailed – one of the most disastrous failures of US intelligence in recent years.
But officials did not know at the time whether to blame a mole or data hack.
Russian interference has been the focus of political debate in Washington with allegations of hacking and releasing information as well as using social media to sow division.
But the CIA director’s surprising claim to me was that China has a more wide-ranging ability to exert influence and more needs to be done to confront it.
China’s reach, the CIA director says, ranges from traditional espionage (human and cyber) through allegations it has used stolen intellectual property to helps its businesses.
But it also includes the way in which it uses its economic weight to influence American companies seeking access to its market.