China finding ways to block U.S. officials' visits to Taiwan: FBI
ROC Central News Agency
07/08/2020 03:20 PM
Washington, July 7 (CNA) China is using all means at its disposal to prevent American government officials from visiting Taiwan as part of its efforts to influence Washington, a top United States intelligence official said Tuesday.
Accusing China of engaging in a "malign foreign influence" campaign to manipulate Americans, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said Beijing has directly or indirectly used its influence on American government officials, and some are not even aware they have been targeted.
One example is China's attempt to block visits to Taiwan by American officials, Wray said in a speech at the Hudson Institute on the threats posed by the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party to the economic and national security of the U.S.
"Let's say China gets wind that some American official is planning to travel to Taiwan -- think a governor, a state senator, a member of Congress," Wray said.
"China does not want that to happen, because that travel might appear to legitimize Taiwanese independence from China and legitimizing Taiwan would, of course, be contrary to China's 'one China' policy."
Among the sophisticated methods China is using to keep U.S. officials from visiting Taiwan are bribery, blackmail, and covert deals, he said.
That can take the form of open, naked economic pressure and seemingly independent middlemen to push China's preferences on American officials to achieve its goals.
Beijing, Wray said, has leverage over many constituents of American officials, including American companies, academics, and members of the media, as all of them want to gain access to their Chinese partners and China's market.
Thus, if an American official wants to visit Taiwan, Beijing may threaten to cut ties with a company from that official's home state by withholding permission for it to sell its products in China, forcing the company to pressure the official to change his or her plans.
Other more subtle tactics are also used, Wray said.
"China will work relentlessly to identify the people closest to the official -- the people that official trusts most. China will then work to influence those people to act on China's behalf as middlemen to influence the official," Wray said.
"Worse still, some of these intermediaries may not even realize they're being used as pawns, because they, too, have been deceived."
Wray said this malign foreign influence campaign targets Washington's policies "24/7, 365 days a year."
(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Frances Huang)
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