Washington [US], April 14 (ANI): China's effort to expand its influence represents one of the largest threats to the United States, according to a major annual intelligence reportwhich also warned of the broad national security challenges posed by Moscow and Beijing.
The report that was released on Tuesday was released ahead of hearings later this week set to be held by the House and Senate Intelligence panels to examine the findings of the intelligence community. The worldwide threats report is meant to be released annually, but the Trump administration failed to release a report publicly in 2020, with the last assessment released in early 2019.
"Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang have demonstrated the capability and intent to advance their interests at the expense of the United States and its allies, despite the pandemic. China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas--especially economically, militarily, and technologically--and is pushing to change global norms," the report said.
"Russia is pushing back against Washington where it can globally, employing techniques up to and including the use of force. Iran will remain a regional menace with broader malign influence activities, and North Korea will be a disruptive player on the regional and world stages," the report read.
According to The New York Times, the report puts China's push for "global power" first on the list of threats, followed by Russia, Iran and North Korea. There are typically few broad revelations in the annual reports, which are a collection of declassified assessments, although the intelligence agencies' ranking of threats and how they change over time can be telling.
As per the report, China's strategy is to drive wedges between the United States and its allies. Beijing has also used its success in combating the coronavirus pandemic to promote the "superiority of its system."
The report also predicts more tensions in the South China Sea, as Beijing continues to intimidate rivals in the region.
It also predicts that China will press the government of Taiwan to move forward with unification and criticize efforts by the United States to bolster engagement with Taipei. But the report stopped short of predicting any kind of direct military conflict.
"Beijing will press Taiwan authorities to move toward unification and will condemn what it views as increased US-Taiwan engagement. We expect that friction will grow as Beijing steps up attempts to portray Taipei as internationally isolated and dependent on the mainland for economic prosperity, and as China continues to increase military activity around the island," the report read.
"It is absolutely accurate the intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially, and basically components have coalesced around two alternative theories, these scenarios are it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, or it was a laboratory accident," Haines told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as reported by CNN.
CIA Director William Burns, who also appeared alongside other intelligence agency leaders Tuesday, that he agreed with Haines' remarks and added that it is clear to analysts "the Chinese leadership has not been fully forthcoming or fully transparent in working with the WHO who were providing the kind of original complete data that would help answer those questions."
US intelligence officials warned in a report issued last week that the geopolitical environment has become more competitive due to China's challenge to the United States and Western-led international system.
According to The New York Times, the report titled Global Trends 2040,"China is taking advantage of the West's troubles to expand its international influence. Many global challenges are unaddressed... The rivalry between the United States and China is likely to set the broad parameters for the geopolitical environment during the coming decades, forcing starker choices on other actors."
Under the former President Donald Trump's administration, ties between Washington and Beijing had deteriorated over issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang, encroachment on the special status of Hong Kong, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency concerning the pandemic and China's military aggression around the world. (ANI)