United States Declares China as the Biggest Threat; Is this the Start of Another Cold War?

October 08, 2021

The CIA announced the formation of a top-level working group on China as part of a larger US government effort to counter Beijing’s influence.

The group will become one of the CIA’s fewer than a dozen mission centers, with weekly director-level meetings aimed at driving the agency’s China strategy. The CIA also announced that it would increase its efforts to recruit Chinese speakers and establish a new mission center focused on emerging technologies and global issues like climate change and global health.

President Joe Biden’s administration has chastised China on a number of security and economic issues, while also seeking common ground on issues such as climate change and a nuclear-armed North Korea. Top administration officials have indicated that resources will be shifted toward great power competition with China while counter-terrorism remains a priority.

Given the insularity of its Communist Party leadership, its large military and security services, and its development of advanced technologies that can counter spying, China poses a particularly difficult challenge for the US intelligence community. The Chinese government, according to CIA Director William Burns, is the most important geopolitical threat we face in the twenty-first century.

CIA has always risen to the occasion to meet whatever challenges have come our way, according to Burns. And now, as we face our most difficult geopolitical test in a new era of great power rivalry, the CIA will be at the vanguard of this effort.

The CIA will fold mission centers on Iran and North Korea into existing groups covering each country’s respective region as part of an agency reorganization. During President Donald Trump’s administration, both country-specific mission centers were established. The CIA will also try to reduce recruiting delays by streamlining the often-time-consuming process of completing background checks and security clearances, with a goal of cutting processing times to six months on average. For the first time, it will appoint a chief technology officer as part of a larger effort to implement advanced computing methods.

Beijing has been publicly accused of obstructing investigations into the origins of Covid-19 and aiding and abetting criminal hackers who target critical US infrastructure. China has retaliated by accusing the US of scapegoating Beijing, citing previous US intelligence failures as well as the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government. However, both countries have the world’s largest economies and the world’s most powerful military and political forces. China flying military planes near the self-governed island of Taiwan, which has long had US support and which Beijing considers part of its territory, has strained the relationship.

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