High-ranking House Republicans on Monday sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, calling upon the bureau to provide information regarding reported infiltration of U.S. government institutions by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its operatives.
Over the past few years, U.S. worries about China’s growing influence have skyrocketed, especially during the administration of President Donald Trump, who has likely been the most aggressive president in recent decades toward the authoritarian country as it tries to accumulate more power.
Reps. James Comer (Ky.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Glenn Grothman (Wis.), Michael Cloud (TX), Chip Roy (TX), and Mark Green (Tenn.) are among the Republicans who signed the letter.
“We write concerning the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) matter preventing and combating the attempts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to spy on American citizens, steal intellectual property, and suppress free speech of American CCP dissenters,” the letter reads. “Recent reporting suggests these CCP attempts have garnered significant results, including interacting with a Member of Congress on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.”
The letter’s focus then turned to U.S. educational and governmental institutions, citing reports of CCP spies infiltrating these entities.
“This year we have inquired into institutes of higher education failing to disclose monetary ties to the CCP, CCP disinformation campaigns regarding the origins and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, CCP providing false information to the World Health Organization (WHO), and CCP theft of American COVID-19 vaccine research,” the members of Congress write.
Furthermore, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s December 3 opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “China Is National Security Threat No. 1” is also cited by the group of House Republicans to support their claim that China is the United States’ top external threat.
“It is imperative we treat the CCP as what they are-adversaries,” they write. “Indeed, the Director of National Intelligence recently proclaimed China as ‘the greatest threat to America today’ and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II.”
Moreover, the letter’s attention shifted to the ongoing scandal with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and reports that he engaged in a relationship with a Chinese spy.
“According to media reports, the CCP intelligence operative known as Fang Fang had developed extensive relationships with elected officials at every level of government, including a Democrat U.S. Congressman,” the letter says. “U.S. intelligence officials believe Fang Fang’s operation was orchestrated by the CCP’s primary civilian spy agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), between 2011 and 2015.”
“The operative targeted primarily Democrat politicians in the San Francisco area, but also around the country,” it continues. “Fang Fang gained influence through campaigning, fundraising, and cultivating romantic relationships with elected officials and their staff. This allowed her to learn these officials’ habits, schedules, and preferences, potentially to share this information with the MSS.”
After which, the letter arrives at its purpose and asks Wray and the FBI to schedule a briefing with the group of House Republicans before December 21.
“Depending on the total number of active CCP operatives and the breadth of the MSS operation across our country, any number of elected officials could potentially be compromised without even knowing it,” the letter states. “Therefore, to help us better understand the depth and breadth of CCP influence in government institutions, as well as the FBI’s efforts to investigate and affirmatively combat CCP efforts, please schedule a staff level briefing on this issue by December 21, 2020.”
It is not yet known whether or not the FBI will comply and schedule such a briefing before the listed date.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.