China’s effort to expand its growing influence represents one of the largest threats to the United States, according to a major annual intelligence report released on Tuesday, which also warned that Beijing was capable of cyberattacks that could temporarily disrupt critical infrastructure in the United States.
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.
“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,” the report said. “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 section on Iran could influence the negotiations over the United States rejoining the nuclear deal. Importantly, the intelligence agencies assess that Iran “is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities” needed to build a nuclear device. But Iranian leaders, the report said, are most likely to remain reluctant to engage in talks with the United States without sanctions relief.
have used the assessment to reinforce their arguments.
success in combating the Covid-19 pandemic to promote the “superiority of its system.”
The report predicts that China will press the government of Taiwan to move forward with unification, and criticize efforts by the United States to step up engagement with Taipei. But the report stopped short of predicting any kind of direct military conflict.
China uses its electronic surveillance and hacking capabilities to not only repress dissent inside its country but also conduct intrusions that affect people beyond its borders, the report said. Also, China represents a growing threat of cyberattacks against the United States, and the intelligence agencies assess that Beijing “at a minimum, can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure within the United States.”