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What prompted the unprecedented FBI, MI5 joint address?

The directors of the two intelligence agencies sent a clear signal on the ‘massive shared challenge’ China presents

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FBI Director Chris Wray speaks at his installation ceremony at the FBI Building, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, in Washington. The FBI and MI5 have teamed up in an unprecedented manner in regard to China espionage, the two organizations confirm.

Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

MI5 Director General Ken McCallum and FBI Director Chris Wray made a joint address for the first time in history Wednesday, speaking to business and academic leaders at Thames House in London. The purpose? They wanted to issue a warning on the “growing threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party to UK and US interests,” according to the event transcript.

Theft of market advantage in the West

Security threats are constantly evolving, and while counterterrorism efforts in these intelligence agencies often deal with the lone individual — an “Islamist extremist or right-wing extremist” — the MI5 director addressed the Chinese Communist Party’s “coordinated campaign on a grand scale” at the Wednesday event.

McCallum believes the Chinese government is carefully working to steal market advantage using covert theft, technology transfer, exploitative research, new spy contacts and a constant barrage of cyber attacks. The director said China-related investigations at MI5 increased by seven times since 2018.

This year, a New York Congressional candidate Xiong Yan was targeted by the Communist Party’s secret police, according to the BBC. Private investigators were allegedly hired to discredit him and discussed plans to physically assault him or stage a car crash. Yan was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and fled China as a political refugee in 1992.

The threat of another invasion

FBI Director Wray asserted that China is learning “important lessons for geopolitics in Asia” by watching how Western governments and businesses respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He indicated that China “may be taking steps to insulate itself from economic repercussions if it invades Taiwan,” per The Washington Post.

The question remains: Will China invade Taiwan? According to Newsweek, President Joe Biden committed to the defense of Taiwan “if necessary by force.” Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, told a Senate committee that the Chinese government’s goal is to “put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention.”

The Washington Post reported that the FBI director said the invasion of Taiwan would “represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen.”