Thursday’s announcement by the CIA indicated that it would create a high-ranking working group on China as part a broad U.S. government effort to counter Beijing’s influence.
This group will be one of a few dozen mission centers that the CIA operates. The agency holds weekly director-level meetings to guide its strategy towards China. The CIA announced it would increase its efforts to recruit Chinese speakers as well as create a second mission center focusing exclusively on emerging technologies, such climate change, and global health.
The administration of President Joe Biden has repeatedly called out Chinese aggression on a variety of economic and security issues. It also seeks common ground on issues such as climate change and North Korea. Top officials in the administration have signaled that resources will be shifted to China’s “great power” competition while keeping a strong focus on counterterrorism.
The U.S. intelligence community faces a difficult challenge in China due to the insularity of the Communist Party leadership, the large military and security forces and the development of advanced technologies that can combat spying. Thursday’s statement by CIA Director William Burns stated that the Chinese government was “the most significant geopolitical threat” we face in the 21st Century.
Burns stated that “CIA has always risen to the occasion in all of our history,” Burns said. “And now, facing our most difficult geopolitical challenge in a new era great power rivalry,” Burns said.
The CIA will merge mission centers on Iran or North Korea as part of a reorganization of the agency. This will allow each country to be covered by existing groups. Both mission centers for specific countries were established during the Trump administration.
The CIA will also work to reduce delays in recruiting by easing the often tedious process of completing background checks. This is with the goal of reducing processing time to an average of six month.
It will also designate the first chief technology officer as part of a larger effort to implement advanced computing methods.