FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich’s Remarks Regarding New DOJ Initiative to Combat Chinese Economic Espionage
Remarks as prepared for delivery at Department of Justice press conference announcing new Chinese economic espionage initiative and related multi-defendant indictment.
Thank you, AG Sessions. The threats we face in the national security realm have never been more complex. And today, we’re standing before you focused on one country that continues to pose one of the broadest, most complicated, and long-term threats: China.
Actors working to benefit China are the most active perpetrators of economic espionage against us. Every type of business is at risk—big companies and small ones; those located in major cities, small towns, or even rural areas. And those looking to infiltrate companies or, in many cases, steal trade secrets are not what you expect when you think of traditional espionage actors. Often these individuals are insiders—employees working in the targeted company. They can be students or others in the larger academic community, conducting authorized research—but then sharing the results with others without approval. Networks of people are used to piece together, bit by bit, the various components of our sensitive processes, our proprietary data, and our state secrets.
These unconventional actors are becoming the new face of the China threat. They seek to gain any advantage on the global stage, through whatever data they can pilfer. Nearly every one of our FBI field offices has investigations into economic espionage leading back to China. We’ve had cases where actors have targeted corn seeds in the fields of Iowa, software for wind turbines in Massachusetts, and, in this case, complex semi-conductor memory technology from a company based in Boise, Idaho.
The Chinese government isn’t pulling any punches. They’re strategic in their approach—they actually have a formal plan, set out in five-year increments, to achieve dominance in critical areas. But we’re bringing all of our investigative resources to bear to protect the United States and our interests. We’re using a broad set of tools and allies. We use our traditional law enforcement authorities to arrest malicious actors. But we might also work with the State Department to have a subject’s visa revoked. We might work with the Departments of Commerce or Treasury to sanction a foreign company for misconduct. And we might work directly with a U.S. company itself to help identify and remove an insider threat.
We know we’ve got to be in lockstep with our partners at every level. We’re not just standing up here today, side-by-side with DOJ for this press conference. We’re working together, side-by-side, every day to identify and mitigate threats, which includes prosecuting wrongdoers. We’re also working with our state and local law enforcement partners. They’re often the first ones called when businesses and people in communities across the United States suspect foul play. But as I said, we’re going to need the help of partners on every level. That’s why we’re also working incredibly closely with American businesses and universities.
It will take all of us working together to combat the threats we face from China and to protect the security and stability of our economy and our way of life for generations to come. Thank you.