FBI Head: Chinese Spies Lurk Around US Academic Community


The director of the FBI said today that nearly every FBI office in the country, large and small, is concerned about the infiltration of American academic circles by Chinese intelligence "collectors" whether they're students, professors, scientists or other scholars.

Director Christopher Wray said that "non-traditional collectors" are exploiting a "level of naivety" in academia and creating a "whole of society threat."

"It's across basically every discipline," Wray told lawmakers in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats. "They're exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere. But they're taking advantage of it. So one of the things we're trying to do is to view the China threat not just as a whole government threat, but as a whole society threat on their end. And I think it's going to take a whole of society response by us. It's not just the intelligence community, but it's raising awareness within our academic sector, our private sector, as part of the defense."

Related: The Spy Who Come in From the Cornfields (ABC News)

Wray said the FBI specifically "has concerns" about and is "watching warily" Beijing-sponsored Confucius Institutes, cultural and education programs that have popped up the world over, including across the U.S.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), who today asked Wray about Chinese influence in academia and the Confucius Institutes specifically, earlier this month called on Maimi Dade College and other local universities to disassociate themselves with the program, which he called part of "China’s aggressive campaign to ‘infiltrate’ American classrooms, stifle free inquiry, and subvert free expression both at home and abroad."

Read More: American Universities Are Welcoming China’s Trojan Horse (Foreign Policy)

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