A leading CIA official warned that China might be planning to declare “cold war” on the United States and that this threat could be the “most serious” that the country has to deal with at the present.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Saturday, CIA East Asia Mission Center deputy assistant director Michael Collins clarified that China does not exactly want to declare war against the United States, according to the Associated Press. However, he added that President Xi Jinping’s communist government has different ways to “undermine” the U.S. in a subtle, quieter manner that equates to a different type of cold war than the original one between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
“I would argue… that what they’re waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during THE Cold War (between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) but a cold war by definition,” said Collins.
In a separate report, Newsweek further quoted Collins, who offered his description of typical nations that declare cold wars on other countries, and warned that China wants every other country in the world to take its side when it comes to its interests in the U.S.
“A country that exploits all avenues of power licit and illicit, public and private, economic and military, to undermine the standing of your rival relative to your own standing without resorting to conflict.”
As further noted by the Associated Press, concerns about the tension between China and the U.S. are mainly centered on the former country’s “pervasive” attempts to acquire certain business secrets and research related to the ongoing modernization of its military. Furthermore, several countries, including the U.S., have reportedly expressed concern about how China is setting up island military outposts in the South China Sea.
Michael Collins’ warnings about a potential cold war between China and the U.S. are not unprecedented, as other officials have cautioned about China’s “rising influence” as a world power and how the country could be a serious threat to America in terms of its alleged ability to steal top-secret information for its own purposes. Earlier this week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China’s threat is so “significant” for the United States to underestimate, adding that his agency’s investigations in all 50 states have found evidence of Chinese “economic espionage.”
“For them, it is a whole of state effort,” said Wray.
“It is economic espionage as well as traditional espionage; it is nontraditional collectors as well as traditional intelligence operatives; it’s human sources as well as cyber means.”
Considering how China is reportedly modernizing and expanding its defenses and making technological advances in the development of various types of weapons, former National Security Council senior director for defense policy and arms control Franklin Miller said that it’s about time the U.S. “engages” China, even if there’s only a “medium-low” chance that such communications will turn out to be fruitful and successful.