According to a report from Bloomberg, the US is frustrated it doesn’t have spies within the inner circle of Chinese President Xi Jinping, making it harder for the US to know what China plans to do next.
The report cited anonymous US officials and John Bolton, the ultra-hawk who served as President Trump’s national security advisor. It said the US lacks “top-tier” intelligence on China due to Beijing’s success in breaking up CIA spy rings in recent years and due to a lack of Chinese speakers employed by US intelligence agencies.
In an effort to correct the lack of intelligence, the CIA has established a new spy center to focus exclusively on China. Announcing the new center, CIA Director William Burns said China was the “most important geopolitical threat” facing the US in the 21st century.
The sources who spoke to Bloomberg said the new spy center is more symbolic and hope to see the CIA back it up with more spending and staffing. As part of its plan to focus more on China, the CIA plans to recruit more Chinese speakers. In a July interview with NPR, Burns said he is considering deploying “Chinese 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,” Burns said.