‘CCP represents most consequential threat to US national security, leadership globally’
Washington: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) represents both the “leading and most consequential threat” to US national security and leadership globally, a top American intelligence official told lawmakers on Wednesday as Senators called for taking urgent steps to address the growing Chinese challenge.
“The CCP represents both the leading and most consequential threat to US national security and leadership globally and its intelligence specific ambitions and capabilities make it, for us, our most serious and consequential intelligence rival,” Avril Haines, Director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“During the past year, the threat has been additionally complicated by a deepening collaboration with Russia, which also remains an area obvious of intense focus for the intelligence community,” she said during a hearing on worldwide threat assessment.
Needless to say the People’s Republic of China, which is increasingly challenging the US economically, technologically, politically, and militarily around the world, remains “our unparalleled priority” she said adding that China under President Xi Jinping will continue efforts to achieve his vision of making China the preeminent power in East Asia and a major power on the world stage.
“To fulfil Xi’s vision, however, the CCP is increasingly convinced that it can only do so at the expense of US power and influence and by using coordinated whole of government tools to demonstrate strength and compel neighbours to acquiesce to its preferences, including its land, sea, and air claims in the region and its assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan,” Haines said.
She told members of the Senate Committee that after more than a decade of serving as China’s top leader, Xi’s control over key levers of power gives him significant power and influence over most issues.
“Xi has surrounded himself with like-minded loyalists at the apex of the party’s standing committee, China’s highest decision making body, and we assess that during the course of Xi’s third term they will together attempt to press Taiwan on unification, undercut US influence, which they perceive as a threat, and drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners and promote certain norms that favour China’s authoritarian system,” she said.
Referring to Xi’s criticism during his speech on Monday of what he referred to as America’s suppression of China, reflecting his longstanding distrust of US goals and his apparent belief that the United States seeks to contain China, Haines said Xi’s speech this week was the most public and direct criticism that they have seen from him to date.
This, Haines said, probably reflects growing pessimism in Beijing about China’s relationship with the United States, as well as Xi’s growing worries about the trajectory of China’s domestic economic development and indigenous technology innovation, challenges that he now blames on the United States.
“He also wants to message his populace and regional actors that the US bears the responsibility for any coming increase in tensions. And despite this more public and directly critical rhetoric, however, we assess that Beijing still believes it benefits most by preventing a spiralling of tensions and by preserving stability in its relationship with the United States,” she said.
Specifically, Beijing wants to preserve stability in East Asia, avoid triggering additional economic punishments from US sanctions and US partners, and showcase a steady relationship with the United States to help avoid setbacks in its other relationships around the world, even while signalling opposition to claimed US provocations, including the shooting down of the PRC balloon, Haines said.
Senator Mark Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the People’s Republic of China under President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party is now unfortunately a near peer competitor with our country in its economy, technology, and military capabilities.
While America was focused for two decades on counterterrorism, China was racing to overtake the United States in a range of emerging and foundational technologies, such as advanced wireless communications, semiconductors, quantum synthetic biology, and next generation energy, as well as taking not only the extraction but the processing of rare earth minerals that are so critical in so many of those technologies, he said.
“The PRC has also become an active player in the international technology standard setting bodies, and is embedding itself in global supply chains. All of this is why the United States must aggressively invest in talents, tools, and research to lead in tomorrow’s technologies,” he said.
It’s clear that globalisation led to the rise of China, but it also de-industrialized America, created long and vulnerable supply chains, said Senator Marco Rubio, Ranking Member of the Committee. “It eroded our middle class, left our society deeply divided along socioeconomic lines,” he said.