In an op-ed penned on Nov. 3 for the Wall Street Journal, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe warned that China intends “to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically.” Ratcliffe admonished Americans that the “People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.” Other than the President of the United States, there is no other government official who has greater access to intelligence than the Director of National Intelligence.

Ratcliffe described China’s approach to economic espionage as “rob, replicate and replace.” He explained that China “robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology, and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”

Ratcliffe provided multiple examples of the ways the Chinese steal intellectual property. While the FBI does regularly investigate and discover nefarious activity, it often comes too late for meaningful remedy—the damage has already been done. Often American companies suffer tremendous, unrecoverable injuries resulting in security breaches, shareholder losses and subsequent job losses for their workers.

Recently, Dr. Charles Lieber, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University was arrested for conspiring with the Chinese who were “allegedly paying him $50,000 a month as part of a plan to attract top scientists and reward them for stealing information.” He had received more than $15 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD). Two Chinese nationals were also arrested and charged. Ratcliffe alluded to other cases of fraud in our university and hospital systems. It is estimated that “China’s intellectual property theft costs America as much as $500 billion a year, or between $4,000 and $6,000 per U.S. household.”

Ratcliffe also warned of the significant cyber and technological warfare being waged against the U.S. Their development of malicious software, such as those embedded in technologies  used in the Huawei 5G networks, enables the Chinese to introduce “vulnerabilities into software and equipment.” President Trump has introduced sanctions on several occasions with regard to Huawei’s access to U.S. technology. Ratcliffe has warned allies that their use of such technology will significantly reduce our willingness to share intelligence with them.

On Nov. 6, Ratcliffe raised the alarm on Maria Bartiromo’s show Sunday Morning Futures, emphasizing the grave dangers he sees with regard to Chinese influence-peddling with politicians both locally and federally. He stated that he even met with Congress to communicate the hazards and unintended consequences of working with the Chinese.  Sometimes, politicians end up “doing China’s bidding” whether they mean to or not. Recent examples of this are the employment of a Chinese spy by Dianne Feinstein or even, more recently, Hunter Biden’s dealings during his father’s Vice Presidency with China and Ukraine, recently reported by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He noted in the interview that prior to writing his op-ed, he worked “very hard to declassify as much as possible” so that the American public could be made aware of just how serious the threat is. Bartiromo also asked him about China’s involvement in spreading Covid-19. Ratcliffe responded that he not only has solid intelligence that it did start in Wuhan, China but that the Chinese actively suppressed early information of its spread.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spoke with governors from all over the United States on Feb. 8, to sternly warn that many of them are on the list labeled by the Chinese as “friendly, hardline or ambiguous.” He said that such attention from the People’s Republic may mark them as vulnerable to influence. FBI Director, Christoper Wray also gave a speech in July of 2020 on the “counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.” 

Photo/John Ratcliffe CNN website

Ratcliffe has shifted “resources inside the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to increase the focus on China.” He has prioritized China over Russia and even Iran, stating that the threat from the Chinese far exceeds that from the other two countries. He wants policymakers and politicians to have available to them “unvarnished insights into China’s intentions and activities.” He said that the world must understand the seriousness of the threat China poses. He cited China’s propensity for subordinating the rights of the individual as well as its exertion of “government control over companies,”  and its constant push to “subvert the privacy and freedom of their citizens with an authoritarian surveillance state.”

China is a formidable power on the world stage especially with regard to information and technological warfare. China’s intent is to “replace the United States as the world’s superpower.”

Ratcliffe concluded by saying that “Beijing is preparing for an open-ended period of confrontation with the U.S. Washington should also be prepared. Leaders must work across partisan divides to understand the threat, speak about it openly, and take action to address it.”