The FBI has more than 1,000 investigations of U.S. intellectual property theft in all 50 states with nearly all leading back to China, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, calling China the No. 1 counter-intelligence threat to the United States.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray described the threat as "more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counter-intelligence threat that I can think of."
The Chinese threat ranges from cyber intrusions to corruption of insiders at U.S. companies small and large, Wray said, citing a series of recent Chinese economic espionage cases investigated by the FBI. U.S. academia, he added, remains particularly vulnerable to Chinese spying efforts to steal publicly-funded proprietary research .
"It's an all tools approach by them," Wray said. "Therefore, it requires an all tools approach by us."
Asked about the upcoming 2020 U.S. elections, Wray reiterated previous comments that Moscow remains intent on interfering in them, calling Russia the No. 2 counter- intelligence threat to the United States.
The testimony comes one day before former special counsel Robert Mueller appears before two Democratic-controlled House panels to testify about his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Wray declined to directly answer questions about the Russia investigation but reiterated that the bureau is cooperating with a Justice Department inspector general inquiry into the FBI's use of court-authorized surveillance during the 2016 election.
In April, Attorney General William Barr told Congress "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election and later assigned a federal prosecutor to examine the origins of the Russia investigation.
In May, however, Wray told lawmakers he did not view court authorized surveillance as spying and that he did not believe the bureau conducted illegal spying on the Trump campaign.
Wray, who took over as head of the FBI in 2017 after President Donald Trump fired then bureau director James Comey, said he's turned virtually the entire leadership of the bureau over the past two years.