Washington — The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency announced Thursday that the agency would be reorganized to focus more on China. At the heart of the effort is the creation of a China Mission Center to provide more resources for Studying China and better mobilize the agency's officials around the world to gather information and analyze China's actions.
In a statement, Director William J. Burns said the new center "will further strengthen our collective efforts to address our greatest geopolitical threat of the 21st century: the increasingly hostile Chinese government."Another new center will focus on new technologies and global issues such as pandemics and climate change. It is called the Transnational and Technology Mission Center, and its tasks include identifying new technologies that can help the C.I.A. gather intelligence and that could be used by foreign agencies against C.I.A. agents. Burns made China his top priority during his confirmation hearing in February, and the challenges posed by the technological change were another important area of focus. These new mission cents, together with the newly created post of Chief Technology Officer, represent the formalization of these priorities.
The changes reflect the overall policy direction of the Biden administration's national security team to focus more on a new generation of challenges and threats facing the United States after two decades of terrorism-dominated intelligence. The CIA has informed congressional leaders of the changes, and at least an increased focus on China is likely to garner strong support. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that intelligence agencies need to devote more resources to China and improve their analysis of the Chinese government. The announcement came days after a top-secret cable was sent to C.I.A. branches and bases around the world warning of informants being captured, killed or turned into double agents. Advances in technology have made it very difficult to gather intelligence in China. The ubiquity of surveillance cameras and ai-powered facial recognition software makes it especially challenging for intelligence agents to evade detection in China.
A decade ago, the Chinese government systematically dismantled THE C.I.A.'s spying operations in the country, and informants were arrested or executed. Some former officials blamed a breach of the AGENCY's classified communications system, while others blamed a former CIA officer who was later convicted of passing classified information to China. Since then, the C.I.A. has been trying to rebuild its spy network, but progress has been hampered by the Chinese government's ability to track movements and communications.
China's global ambitions and the increasing influence it exerts on countries around the world through its development programs mean it is in the CIA's interest to have a separate China-focused center.Burns will meet weekly with China experts, just as his predecessors have held weekly counterterrorism meetings for most of the past two decades.
The CIA will also push for more Chinese experts to work overseas.While it may not be possible to increase the number of C.I.A. officers in China, the agency could deploy more analysts in Asia and other parts of the world where China is active to help C.I.A. officers better understand Beijing's strategy and tactics.
In conclusion, China has presented the US with "our greatest geopolitical test in a new era of great power competition".