CIA Chief Nominee Warns of ‘Adversarial, Predatory’ China

By Jeff Seldin~VOA News*

William Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director, testifies during his Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing, Feb. 24, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – The United States must train its spies and intelligence analysts on the rising threat from China, U.S. President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the country’s premier spy agency told lawmakers Wednesday, calling competition from Beijing “the biggest geopolitical test that we face.”

Former Ambassador William Burns, a career diplomat who served in Russia and the Middle East, shared the blunt assessment with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during his confirmation hearing to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), further warning that this new era of great power competition with Beijing may be like no other in U.S. history.

“Competing China will be key to our national security in the decades ahead,” Burns said, describing China’s leadership as both adversarial and predatory.

“The evolution of [President] Xi Jinping’s China over the last six or seven years has been a very sharp wake-up call,” he added. “It’s the kind of aggressive, undisguised ambition and assertiveness that I think has made very clear the nature of the adversary and rival that we face.”

If confirmed, the 64-year-old Burns would become the first career diplomat to lead the CIA. He told lawmakers that his experience with working with the intelligence agency while at the State Department taught him the value of what its officers and analysts do.

“Good intelligence delivered with honesty and integrity is the critical foundation for sound policy choices,” he said, addressing concerns that under former President Donald Trump, some intelligence was politicized to support his administration’s political goals.

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