The head of the intelligence agency said the group’s “adversaries” would focus on the Chinese government, calling it the “most important threat” to the United States.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has announced a new group that will focus solely on strategic challenges posed by China and Beijing.
The CIA said in a statement on Thursday that the China Mission Center was set up “to address the global challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China, which cuts across all mission areas of the agency.”
The group is one of only a dozen mission centers run by the CIA and will hold weekly, director-level meetings to better coordinate the agency’s strategy towards China.
It will address critical global issues for U.S. competition, the CIA says, such as emerging technologies, economic security, climate change and health challenges.
CIA Director William Burns said the new mission center would “strengthen our joint work against our most important geopolitical threat in the 21st century, the growing hostile Chinese government.”
“Throughout our history, the CIA has moved forward to address any challenges in our path,” Burns said in a statement Thursday. “And now that we are facing a tough geopolitical test in a new era of strong power competition, the CIA will be at the forefront of this effort.”
The announcement comes amid President Joe Biden’s administration’s top priority in dealing with Beijing.
In June, Biden announced a new task force at the Pentagon to assess and respond to Beijing’s military challenge.
Relations between the two superpowers have been particularly strained in recent days due to the flight of military aircraft near the Chinese autonomous island of Taiwan. However, a U.S. official said Wednesday that Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting later this year.
China is seen as a particularly difficult challenge for the U.S. intelligence community, given the implications of its Communist Party leadership, its large military and security services, and the development of advanced technology that can combat espionage.
To illustrate the challenge, the CIA recently sent a memo to its agents around the world stating that it lacked informants from other countries, some were captured or killed, the New York Times and Washington Post reported.
The CIA and FBI have recently uncovered dozens of cases of providing classified or corporate ownership information to U.S. citizens in China, as well as examples of Chinese nationals working as intelligence collectors in the United States.
The CIA announced Thursday that it will nominate a chief technology officer for the first time as part of a larger effort to implement advanced computing methods at the agency.