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DNI Ratcliffe Warns China ‘Intends to Dominate U.S.’ as Trump Ratchets Up Pressure

 THE OUTGOING DIRECTOR of national intelligence on Thursday warned the U.S. needs to take more seriously the threat China poses and redirect more resources to combating it, framing in dramatic terms the ambitions of an enemy that the Trump administration has increasingly antagonized in recent weeks.

"Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China's major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party," John Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

The column comes as the lame-duck Trump administration ratchets up pressure on China using economic, diplomatic, intelligence and military tools and represents an apparent attempt to stoke anti-China sentiment and to prevent the incoming Biden administration from resetting President Donald Trump's Beijing agenda.

Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist and former Texas congressman serving since May in his first intelligence post said China has institutionalized the stealing and recreating of American technology – a practice that has worried U.S. presidents for at least a decade. He cited American scientists and researchers whom Chinese intelligence agencies have tried to recruit and said in general terms that Beijing has weaponized its investments in American companies and their workers to unduly influence members of Congress representing those areas.

"I briefed the House and Senate Intelligence committees that China is targeting members of Congress with six times the frequency of Russia and 12 times the frequency of Iran," Ratcliffe wrote. "To address these threats and more, I have shifted resources inside the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to increase the focus on China. This shift must continue to ensure U.S. intelligence has the resources it needs to give policymakers unvarnished insights into China's intentions and activities."

"China should be America's primary national security focus going forward," Ratcliffe concluded.

The military, too, believes it needs additional resources to combat what it considers a unique threat.

"The existential challenge is going to be China," Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in wide-ranging remarks to the non-profit, non-partisan U.S. Naval Institute earlier on Thursday. He advocated for new military spending in excess of the current budgets that exceed $700 billion. "It just is. You have to come to grips with that."

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced that more than 1,000 Chinese researchers and scientists with ties to the Communist Party had fled the U.S. as a result of a crackdown.

The State Department earlier Thursday issued new regulations limiting visas that Chinese government officials and their families could use to visit the U.S. from prior periods of as long as 10 years to now only one month and one single entry.

Chinese state media blasted the moves as a "narrow, extreme mentality" and that the U.S. "should stop treating everyone as a spy."

"For some Americans, all they see is hatred, division and confrontation. For some time, the U.S. repressed China politically out of its strong ideological bias and strategy of containing China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Thursday. "The U.S. arbitrarily harassed, persecuted and suppressed experts and scholars in the U.S., which greatly affected the normal personnel exchanges between China and the U.S., as well as cooperation in science, technology, culture and education."

Hua also said that China seeks to strengthen its cooperation with international organizations tasked with preventing intellectual property theft. It's unclear whether those remarks were linked to the statement from Ratcliffe, which Axios first reported he would issue in some form.

China has made clear it's relief about the new administration, issuing congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden the week after he won last month's election. President Xi Jinping also sent congratulations but has not yet directly spoken with Biden since the election.

Many analysts believe Biden should continue the Trump administration's pressure on Beijing while returning to prior presidents' approach of working with allies to magnify pressure on China rather than attempting to exact punishments unilaterally.

The Trump administration's latest actions follow a broader escalation of aggression toward China, particularly as it seeks to blame Beijing for the unmitigated spread throughout the U.S. of the coronavirus, which originated in the Wuhan area of China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – among the most hawkish members of Trump's inner circle – announced this summer a fundamental shift in the U.S. treatment of China, shortly after the U.S. closed the Chinese consulate in Houston because it had become, as Pompeo has claimed, "a den of spies."

"The old paradigm of blind engagement with China has failed. We must not continue it. We must not return to it," Pompeo said in a speech in July at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

Pompeo and other Trump administration officials, including former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, have said in recent weeks that the prior focus on an era of "great power competition" to include China and Russia now requires focus specifically on China.

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