Date: April 26, 2019
By: Joel Gehrke
Chinese surveillance tactics “pose an existential threat” to the nations of the Western Hemisphere, a senior State Department official warned Friday.
“Citizens living in democracies in the Western Hemisphere could potentially have their entire digital identity under the control and surveillance of an authoritarian government,” Kimberly Breier, the State Department’s top diplomat for the region, told the Council of the Americas.
Breier was chiefly addressing Latin America, with a focus on how China distributes surveillance technology and wireless internet services that leave Westerners exposed to Beijing’s prying eyes. China has been selling its high-tech authoritarianism to dictators such as Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and even countries friendlier to the United States have been opening their telecommunications networks to Chinese tech companies.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, speaking separately at the Council on Foreign Relations, emphasized the same day that the Communist power is targeting the United States as aggressively as any regional neighbor.
“China has pioneered a societal approach to stealing innovation any way it can, from a wide array of businesses, universities, and organizations,” Wray said. “They’re doing this through Chinese intelligence services, through state-owned enterprises, through ostensibly private companies, through graduate students and researchers, and through a variety of actors working on behalf of China.”
Breier and Wray made their warnings as China is trying to allay international worries about the Belt and Road Initiative, an overseas investment plan that U.S. officials regard as a “predatory” lending scheme to purchase influence over impoverished nations. China is hosting an international summit in Beijing on Friday, convening Russia and other partner nations to tout the initiative. [FULL STORY]