The Chinese Communist Party is engaging in a "malign foreign influence campaign" to ensure that China becomes the "world's only superpower," US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday.
"China is engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world's only superpower by any means necessary," Wray said.
Speaking to the politically conservative Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, Wray stressed that "the stakes could not be higher, and the potential economic harm to American businesses and the economy as a whole almost defies calculation."
He said that Americans were victims of massive property and intellectual theft from China.
"Of the nearly 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are all related to China," Wray said.
The FBI chief also detailed how China is pressuring academics, journalists, as well as American media and sporting giants into suppressing criticism of the country, in particular concerning its approach to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
He added that Chinese diplomats are also "aggressively urging support for China's handling of the COVID-19 crisis" at both the federal and state levels.
"Not that long ago, we had a state senator who was recently even asked to introduce a resolution supporting China's response to the pandemic. The punch line is this: all of these seemingly inconsequential pressures add up to a policymaking environment in which Americans find themselves held over a barrel by the Chinese Communist Party," Wray said.
"China's malign foreign influence campaign targets our policies, our positions, 24/7, 365 days a year," he went on, stressing that it "has implications for elections and they certainly have preferences that go along with that."
Wray said other members of the Trump administration, including the Attorney General and Secretary of State, would be addressing other concerns about China's increasingly aggressive behaviour in coming weeks.