China ‘greatest threat to freedom’, says top US intelligence official

The US’s top intelligence official has issued a warning to Americans, saying China is the biggest threat to democracy and freedom since the Second World War and it intends to “dominate” the US along with the rest of the world.

John Ratcliffe, who serves as Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence, said China was stealing US secrets and looking to replace American companies in the global market.

“If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II,” wrote Mr Ratcliffe in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Mr Ratcliffe said Beijing is preparing for an “open-ended period of confrontation with the US”, claiming the intelligence to support this assertion is clear.

“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace’. China robs US companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology, and then replaces the US firms in the global marketplace,” said Mr Ratcliffe.

The op-ed comes after the US has taken a series of actions against Beijing, which include imposing sanctions on Chinese officials, tariffs on Chinese goods and accusations against China during international talks with third countries.

The Trump administration has only intensified its trade war with China before the president’s expected departure from the White House, restricting travel visas for members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and approving a bill to remove Chinese companies from US exchanges if they fail to allow an audit of their finances.

Mr Ratcliffe’s statements echoed previous comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called the Chinese Communist Party the “central threat of our times.”

He added that the Trump administration has increased its focus on China by shifting resources of up to $85bn within the annual budget for intelligence.

“Washington should also be prepared,” he said. “Leaders must work across partisan divides to understand the threat, speak about it openly, and take action to address it,” Mr Ratcliffe added.

Mr Ratcliffe also claimed US intelligence has found that Beijing conducted “human testing” on troops to develop soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities.

And he warned the incoming Biden administration that China’s increasing attempts to influence American politics could deter his prospects for diplomatic cooperation with Beijing.

He said China is engaged in a “massive influence campaign” targeting US lawmakers of Congress and congressional aides to push local politicians to take a softer line on China.  

China has not responded to the latest comments by Mr Ratcliffe.

However, Beijing has denied similar accusations by the US over a period of time and slammed Washington on Thursday over the new restrictions on visas, asking the country to “abandon their hatred toward the CPC”.

China has also intensified pressure on US ally Australia by imposing new tariffs on imports of Australian wine and speaking out about alleged war crimes committed by its forces in Afghanistan.

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