China recognized as national security concern by US intelligence chiefs

Chinese telecom companies and students in advanced academic research programs discussed as potential threats

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FBI Director Christopher Wray, Feb. 13 2018

FBI Director Christopher Wray, Feb. 13 2018 (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Feb. 13, the chief officers of top U.S. intelligence agencies presented a report on global threats to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Much of the Committee session focused on the topic of Russian meddling in U.S. elections and cyber threats posed by Russian agencies and related organizations, however many Senators at the meeting also expressed concern over China’s activities across the globe.

The website WIRED reports that in reference to China, Sen. Marco Rubio remarked “I’m not sure that in the…history of (the U.S.) we’ve ever faced an adversary to have this scale, scope, and capacity.”

A major concern of Senators was related to the close relationship of Chinese tech giants like Huawei, and the Communist government. The fear is that applications produced by Chinese tech companies may ultimately be used for government intelligence gathering purposes.

When the panel was asked by Sen. Tom Cotton if they would recommend using Chinese software, the intelligence chiefs all indicated that they would not recommend using the Chinese products.

The discussion also brought up the possibility that Chinese students in advanced math and science programs in the U.S. may be acting as intelligence gathering agents. FBI director Christopher Wray noted that such “non-traditional collectors” are common in academic institutions, and that some Chinese students may indeed be taking advantage of the various research and development programs at American universities.

The WIRED report notes that Wray’s comments are particularly alarming not only from a national security standpoint, but they were also framed as a sweeping generalization about Chinese students studying in the U.S. If there is a viable threat to the nation’s security, subsequent recommendations may further exacerbate tension in the already highly contentious debate over current immigration policy.

Judging from most reports of the Committee session, the intelligence agencies in the U.S view cyber security as a primary area of concern, with Russia, China, and Iran designated as the main potential perpetrators of cyber-attacks, reports CBS.

The other major international threat discussed, as expected, was the continued development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, with analysts commenting that they expect the regime to test a high altitude missile over the Pacific ocean sometime in 2018.