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More from the "Five Eyes" intelligence chiefs' warning to 60 Minutes

How China targets LinkedIn
How China targets professional networking sites like LinkedIn 01:55

This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Scott Pelley conducted an unprecedented interview with the leaders of the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance between the United States and four of its English-speaking allies. 

Formed after World War II to gather intelligence, the Five Eyes is made up of the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Domestic intelligence directors from each country, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, made their first joint public appearance ever last week to issue a stark warning: China is conducting an ongoing global espionage campaign. 

"The People's Republic of China represents the defining threat of this generation, this era," Wray told Pelley on the broadcast. "There is no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to our ideas, our innovation, our economic security, and ultimately our national security."

In addition to threats to national security, China has been stealing intellectual property from companies, the intelligence directors cautioned. 

Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, said one way China steals intellectual property is by targeting people on professional networking sites. 

Pretending to be a consultant or a conference host, a Chinese state actor will use the site to lure a businessman to a third country. While there, the Chinese actor may access the target's computer in their hotel room and steal intellectual property from the target's company. 

"They seize commercial advantage to our disadvantage," Burgess warned.

Targeting Chinese dissidents

How China targets dissidents 01:23

The Chinese government targets dissidents around the world through a program called Operation Fox Hunt, an initiative purportedly intended to find fugitives charged with domestic corruption. 

According to Wray, China uses the program to harass, stalk, surveil, and intimidate Chinese dissidents in foreign countries.

"These are uncoordinated law enforcement operations that violate our sovereignty and international norms," Wray said. 

The Russian espionage threat 

The Russian espionage threat 02:49

The leaders of the Five Eyes convened publicly to speak about the threat of China, but in their conversation with 60 Minutes, they also addressed the perennial threat posed by Russia. How has the Russian espionage threat changed since the invasion of Ukraine?

According to Ken McCallum, the director general of MI5, the U.K. had taken strong action against the Russians' covert presence even before the invasion of Ukraine. After a British double agent was poisoned in the English city of Salisbury in 2018, the U.K. removed the undeclared Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian diplomatic presence.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the U.K. has expelled Russian diplomats further, McCallum said. 

"But in our line of work, never underestimate the Russian intelligence services," McCallum continued. "They will be looking to use any other available means including cyber methodology to continue to exert influence and to gather intelligence."

In the U.S., Wray explained that the FBI has partnered with other intelligence operations to disrupt significant Russian cyber operations, including malware called "Snake." According to Wray, the FBI and its partners were able to turn the malware on itself, rendering it ineffective. 

The benefit of working together

The "Five Eyes": The benefit of collaborating 01:04

The intelligence leaders in the Five Eyes partnership monitor the global threat landscape, like the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and what they label as China's unprecedented global espionage campaign. But their partnership strengthens them all, according to David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

To explain how he and his colleagues manage with all that is going on in the world, Vigneault made an analogy that borrowed from his country's national pastime: ice hockey.  

"When the puck goes into the corner and you have to defend yourselves, you know you have your partners with you, your players with you on the ice to defend," Vigneault said. "And that's what makes us stand taller in front of the threat."

The videos above were edited by Daniel Glucksman. 

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