Vicky Arias, FISM News
Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, testified Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, stating that China continues to be the top threat to the security of the United States.
Haines explained to the committee that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains the “unparalleled priority” of the United States Intelligence Community (IC).
“In brief, the CCP represents both the leading and most consequential threat to U.S. national security and leadership globally, and its intelligence-specific ambitions and capabilities make it for us our most serious and consequential intelligence rival,” Haines said.
The IC releases a report each year assessing and detailing current and potential future threats to the nation’s security. The latest report states that “the CCP will work to … undercut U.S. influence, drive wedges between Washington and its partners, and foster norms that favor its authoritarian system.”
Militarily, the IC’s report found that “Beijing is accelerating the development of key capabilities that it believes [it] needs to confront the United States in a large-scale, sustained conflict.”
Haines stated that “the CCP continues to take an increasingly aggressive approach to external affairs, pursuing its goal of building a world-class military, expanding its nuclear arsenal, pursuing counter space weapons capable of targeting U.S. and allied satellites, … [and] continuing to increase global supply chain dependencies on China, with the aim of using such … dependencies to threaten and cut off foreign countries during a crisis.”
China’s ambitions to assert itself globally are also outlined in the assessment.
“Beijing will try to expand its influence abroad and its efforts to be viewed as a champion of global development via several initiatives, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” the assessment states.
The BRI is a plan outlined by China’s President Xi Jinping to build infrastructure in large parts of the world.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) stated that the BRI, “Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking and the world’s largest infrastructure program, poses a significant challenge to U.S. economic, … security, and global health interests.”
According to The Conversation, the Chinese BRI plan has invested billions of dollars in building bridges, roads, and other infrastructures “in many of the world’s poor nations … [and] by accepting Chinese loans with stringent conditions, developing nations with weak bargaining power and limited options for raising funds [have] externally carried a large part of these costs.”
Due to these large loans, the CFR reported that “Beijing could seek geopolitical leverage over BRI countries” citing a certain loan practice of the CCP that gives it an upper hand.
“China … frequently retains the right to demand repayment at any time, giving Beijing the ability to use funding as a tool to enforce Chinese hot-button issues,” the report stated.
President Xi, potentially preparing for a confrontation with the U.S., was critical of the United States during a speech he gave on Monday.
“Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-around containment, encirclement, and suppression of China,” Xi said.
China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, echoed Xi’s sentiment.
“If the U.S. doesn’t step on the brakes … no guardrail can stop the derailment,” Gang said.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said at the intelligence hearing that “it’s clear that globalization led to the rise of China.”
It “deindustrialized America,” Rubio continued “and … left our society deeply divided along socio-economic lines. And we now find ourselves in a new world. One divided between the free nations, led still by America and … an authoritarian block, led by Beijing.”