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China’s attempts to “covertly” influence the West cause the same concern as the “subversion” of Russia, said Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States (CIA, for its acronym in English).
Pompeo told the BBC that the Chinese leave ” a much larger footprint” on this than the Russians.
And among the Beijing activities, he stood out from the “efforts to steal American information”, to the infiltration in schools and hospitals that extends to Europe and the United Kingdom.
But the CIA chief also said Moscow would ” try to intervene ” in the US mid-term elections. that, in November 2018, they will renew the entire House of Representatives and elect a third of the Senate.
He assured that there has been no significant decrease in Russia’s attempts to subvert Europe and the US.
Pompeo, who was a hard-line Republican congressman before being appointed intelligence chief, spoke about it in an exclusive interview with BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera.
He also warned Iran not to attempt against US interests in the Middle East.
“Think about the size of the two economies,” said Pompeo, referring to Russia and China.
“The Chinese have a much larger footprint on which to execute that mission than that of the Russians.”
Earlier this year, a former CIA agent was arrested on charges of withholding classified information in a case believed to be connected to the dismantling of the agency’s spy operations in China.
Two years before the arrest of agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee, some 20 informants died or were imprisoned in one of the most disastrous failures of US intelligence. in recent years.
But experts did not know at that time if the disaster was due to the activity of a mole (an infiltrated agent) or computer hacking .
The US spy chief told the BBC that countries could do more together to combat China’s attempts to exert influence in the West.
” We can see the very concentrated efforts to steal US information , to infiltrate the US with spies with people who will be working on behalf of the Chinese against the US government,” he said.
“We see it in our schools, we see it in our hospitals and medical systems, we see it in the corporate sphere, which is also true in other parts of the world, including Europe and the United Kingdom.”
Chinese methods vs Russian methods
Russia’s interference has been a central issue in the political debate in Washington, with accusations of hacking and information dissemination by Moscow, as well as the use of social networks to create division in the US, points out the Security correspondent of Russia. the BBC, Gordon Corera.
According to Pompeo, China’s reach ranges from traditional forms of espionage (human and cybernetic) to accusations of having used stolen intellectual property to help in their business.
But it also includes the way in which it uses its economic weight to influence US companies trying to penetrate the Chinese market .
Pompeo also dismissed the idea that the United States It has little influence on the conflict in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad remains in power supported by Russia and Iran.
“We are going to work on those complicated problems and push back the Iranians wherever we can,” he told the BBC.
Last year it was learned that Pompeo had written to Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds forces, who are part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, to warn him that any attack on US interests would not happen without reprisals .
“I wanted to send a clear message to Qasem Soleimani, that there are American interests, there are Western interests, British interests and others, and an attack on these will be met with a similar response.”
“I should be very aware that it is intolerable that Iranians threaten US interests,” he added.