Recap: The "Five Eyes" alliance comprises intelligence agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Born out of informal secret meetings during World War II, today the alliance is considered one of the most comprehensive known espionage-sharing initiatives in history.

Intelligence agencies belonging to the Five Eyes circle are worried about China, and they are now officially expressing their concern in public. Representatives from the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand took part in a recent summit hosted by the Hoover Institution think tank at Stanford University, joining a heated discussion hosted by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The summit was about emerging threats against innovation and security, and FBI director Christopher Wray said that nothing is more dangerous to innovation and security than China. According to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Director-General Mike Burgess, Beijing's government is engaged in the "most sustained, scaled, and sophisticated theft" of intellectual property and "acquisition" of expertise in human history.

China is involved in an "unprecedented" IP theft effort, Wray remarked, which is challenging to fight both in "scale and breadth." The country's hacking program is bigger than the efforts made by every other nation combined.

Beijing's hacking effort includes both traditional nation-state spies and other, "non-traditional" agents, the FBI director said, which work as business insiders and exploit "seemingly innocuous joint ventures investments" to steal innovative tech from the West. China can use all those tools deployed in tandem, at a scale the likes of which "the world has never seen," Wray stated.

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance is worried about China's threat against innovative technologies such as quantum computing, robotics, biotech, and of course artificial intelligence. AI is a significant concern among the allied spy agencies, as it can be used (and abused) to write malicious code, sophisticated spear-phishing attacks, and to create fake content for effective disinformation campaigns.

China is already taking advantage of generative AI algorithms to create deepfake audio and images, Wray said, and is actively trying to spy on companies involved in the development of these technologies. MI5 (UK) director General Ken McCallum said that people currently working on cutting-edge innovations should consider national security as one of their priorities. Because you might not be interested in geopolitics, but geopolitics is "certainly interested in you."