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Iran Press TV

CIA launches group on China, scraps Trump-era Iran center

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 07 October 2021 4:38 PM

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says it has created a top-level working group on China as part of a broad US campaign focused on countering Beijing's growing influence across the Pacific and elsewhere in the world.

The CIA said in a statement on Thursday that the China Mission Center (CMC) was formed "to address the global challenge posed by the People's Republic of China that cuts across all of the Agency's mission areas."

The group will have weekly director-level meetings intended to drive the agency's strategy toward China.

CIA Director William Burns called China "the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century."

"CMC will further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government," Burns said.

"Throughout our history, CIA has stepped up to meet whatever challenges come our way," Burns said. "And now facing our toughest geopolitical test in a new era of great power rivalry, CIA will be at the forefront of this effort."

Burns also said the CIA would continue to focus on "an aggressive Russia, a provocative North Korea and a hostile Iran."

As part of the agency's reorganization, the CIA has said it will fold mission centers on Iran and North Korea into existing groups covering each country's respective region.

Both the country-specific mission centers were created during former President Donald Trump's administration.

The group on China will become one of fewer than a dozen mission centers operated by the CIA to drive the agency's strategy toward China. The announcement parallels the broader shift of the administration of President Joe Biden to confronting China as its leading "strategic competitor."

In June Biden announced a new task force at the Pentagon to assess and respond to Beijing's military challenge.

Biden's administration has repeatedly signaled a shift of resources toward "great power" competition with China.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the intelligence committee's top Republican, said in a statement on Thursday that "the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party is real and growing."

"Every part of our government needs to reflect this great power competition in message, structure, and action."

The US spy agency would also ramp up efforts to recruit Chinese speakers and create another mission center focusing on emerging technologies and global issues.

Relations between the US and China have grown tense in recent years, with the world's two largest economies clashing over a range of issues, including trade, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, military activities in the South China Sea as well as the origins of the new coronavirus.

China has accused the US of wrongly scapegoating Beijing and pointed to previous US intelligence failures as well as the collapse of the American-backed government in Afghanistan.

CIA alarmed by capture, killing of informants

The new plan comes after top US counterintelligence officials warned that a number of CIA informants had been captured and executed.

According to The New York Times, the warning came in a top secret memo the officials issued to all of the CIA's stations and bases around the world last week,

The agency's counterintelligence mission center looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised.

The cable itself was not necessarily unique, but the Times noted that announcing the specific number of killings is rare as the information is usually kept strictly under wraps by intelligence officials.

Recruiting spies has always been highly risky, the cable warned.

It said the CIA has not excelled in the area recently for reasons that include being too trusting of sources, underestimating foreign intelligence agencies, and moving too quickly to recruit informants while ignoring potential risks.

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