The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is weighing proposals to create an independent “Mission Center for China” in an escalation of its efforts to gain greater insight into the U.S.’s top strategic rival. This was reported by Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the deliberations.
The proposal was made following the order of CIA Director Bill Burns to broadly review of the CIA’s capabilities towards. Currently China-related missions are carried out by a the much larger Mission Center for East Asia and Pacific.
“As Director Burns has said, China is one of his priorities, and CIA is in the process of determining how best to position ourselves to reflect the significance of this priority,” the CIA said in a statement.
The creation of a specialized internal unit with its own mandate of a narrower China focus should be aimed to elevate the focus on China, the main U.S. geopolitical rival, within the CIA. A new agency would also include vaster resources.
“In the intelligence bureaucracy, a separate China center would make it easier to secure headcount, funding and high-level attention for China-related activities, according to three current and former officials who spoke about the internal deliberations on condition of anonymity,” reports Bloomberg.
This idea has been discussed for a long time before. However, the CIA’s administration is not in hurry to make such a step. The creation of a separate unit may boost the mutual covert operations and may become yet another step towards New Cold War era, escalating U.S.-Chinese relations.
At the moment, existing mission centers include those for counterintelligence, counterterrorism and the Near East. The last major mission center to be established was the Korea Mission Center, under Trump administration in 2017.
The CIA is discussing a new China mission center at the same time when carrying out numerous military provocations, sending warships through the Taiwan Strait under the pretext of protection of ‘freedom of navigation’ in the South China Sea. As well as accusing China of carrying out cyber attacks targeting the U.S. and its allies. International cybersecurity company FireEye recently claimed that it had detected a coordinated cyberattack that hit dozens of Israeli government and private organizations. It was blamed on China.
On the other side, Beijing is accusing the U.S. of mounting cyberattacks against Chinese government, scientific, aviation and other technical institutions for the past 11 years. At the time, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian defined the US as the world’s greatest aggressor in terms of cyber attacks and cyber espionage. He called on Washington to “stop pouring dirty water” in terms of its hypocritical allegations against other nations.
The creation of a new specialized center by the CIA would have important consequences, as China would likely respond with similar measures.