Counterintelligence official warns incoming Biden White House of threat from China

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​A national counterintelligence official warned President-elect Joe Biden that China poses a “more severe” threat to the country than any other American foe and that it will represent one of his administration’s “biggest challenges.”

“From a threat perspective, Russia is a significant adversary particularly with regard to cyber intrusions, malign influence, and sowing discord in our democracy,” Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told Fox News.

“However, no country poses a broader, more severe intelligence collection threat to America than China.”  

China’s campaign to influence foreign countries extends from collecting data, to economic espionage, to trying to affect the supply chain and infrastructure — efforts that have been intensifying in recent years.

“Specifically, in the last year, with respect to the death of George Floyd, COVID, the vaccine, the election process — we saw foreign adversaries, including China, working diligently to expose and amplify discourse in the U.S.,” Evanina said, ​noting how the Chinese Communist Party has ramped up its media presence to “continue to stoke the fire and sow discourse in America.”

“China continues to engage in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign against America because we are a democracy, and democracy is bad for China,” Evanina ​said.

The Communist Party-backed government’s efforts include ​​”​bribery, blackmail, covert dealings with businesses, and an effort to influence American policies and attitudes so that they align with China’s interests globally.”​

Evanina, who has spent 31 years in intelligence positions in the federal government serving in the FBI and the CIA, is stepping down this week. 

​He said China’s malignant campaigns are “not just a government problem” but a “society problem.”

“We have to educate America so they know what malign influence tastes like, smells like, looks like, so when they see it, they can call it out,” ​Evanina told Fox News in the interview published Tuesday.

“This will take a whole of society approach, invoking the government, the intelligence community, law enforcement, social media, big tech companies, to be able to say what this is.”

He said fortunately the incoming Biden administration has “started early” to analyze intelligence regarding China and has received the presidential daily briefings on security threats to the nation.

“When the Biden administration steps in on Day One, they will have an optic of how pernicious and sophisticated the threat — not only from the Chinese Communist Party, but from Russia, Iran, and others,” ​Evanina said.

“And they will have a head start in trying to find the correct avenues to pivot and understand the threat, and find creative ways to mitigate the threat.”

“I think the challenge for the Biden administration will be to understand the scope and scale of some of the Chinese threats in the American landscape, domestically, and what is the best course to defeat that,” Evanina continued.

“I have confidence they’ll be able to do that when they get in here, because there are scores of professional intelligence officers and law enforcement folks that are working around the world that will help them to find solutions.”

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