China is waging an unprecedented campaign to influence American public opinion as November congressional elections approach and presents the greatest long-term counterintelligence threat to the United States, U.S. security officials said on Wednesday.
Senators on the Homeland Security Committee questioned Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray about President Donald Trump’s assertion that China is interfering in U.S. elections and asked if Beijing poses a larger threat to the country than Moscow.
Nielsen told the panel that there were two types of threats to American election security from other nation: hacking or disruption of election infrastructure, which includes voter registration lists or voting machines, and influence campaigns.
“China absolutely is on an unprecedented – or exerting unprecedented effort to influence American opinion,” Nielsen said. “We have not seen to date any Chinese attempts to compromise election infrastructure.”
Wray went farther when asked whether China posed a larger threat than Russia, whose activities during the 2016 presidential election are the subject of a wide-ranging federal investigation that includes whether Moscow cooperated with the Trump campaign to sway the vote.
“China in many ways represents the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counterintelligence threat we face,” Wray said. “Russia is in many ways fighting to stay relevant after the fall of the Soviet Union. They’re fighting today’s fight. China’s is fighting tomorrow’s fight.”
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)
© Thomson Reuters 2018
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