CIA Director William Burns announced Thursday a new spy center that will focus exclusively on China, which he called the “most important geopolitical threat” facing the US.
The China Mission Center (CMC) will hold weekly director-level meetings so the CIA could better coordinate on Beijing. The CIA also announced that it will step up efforts to recruit more Chinese speakers.
Burns said the CMC will “further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government.”
The decision to create a new spy center was decided on as part of the agency’s review of its China policy that was ordered by the CIA chief. Burns said China is the US’s “toughest geopolitical test in a new era of great power rivalry” and that the CIA will be at the “forefront” of this issue.
Establishing the CMC is just one aspect of the Biden administration’s overall strategy against China. Just about every US agency has identified China as its top “threat,” including the Pentagon. Burns has been clear since his Senate confirmation hearing that he views China as Washington’s main “adversary.”
In an interview with NPR in July, Burns said he is considering deploying “China specialists” around the world, as the agency did during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
“During the Cold War, both at the State Department and at CIA, we rightly forward-deployed Soviet specialists to help make sure that we could compete effectively. I think the same is true and this is one of the things that I’m exploring right now, to forward-deploy China specialists,” he said.