Trump's spy chief warns that China is the 'greatest threat' and says the US needs to brace for confrontation

  • Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe called China "the greatest threat to America today" in a scathing opinion article published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Accusing China of seeking to dominate, Ratcliffe called efforts to resist Beijing as "our once-in-a-generation challenge."
  • Also on Thursday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman sharply criticized "extremist anti-China forces in the United States" and called on the US government to view China "in a more rational, calm and impartial manner."
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Upping the pressure on Beijing, President Donald Trump's spy chief called China the greatest national security threat to the US in a scathing opinion article published in The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

"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," Director of National Intelligence Dan Ratcliffe wrote.

"The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically," he said.

Ratcliffe condemned China for the hundreds of billions of dollars in intellectual-property theft that are believed to be fueling China's economic and military rise, as well as its ongoing influence operations in the US, among other things.

The director characterized ongoing US efforts to counter Chinese activities as "our once-in-a-generation challenge."

Ratcliffe's warning is consistent with those from other senior Trump administration officials, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has said that China is at the top of the list of threats facing the US. "It's not, frankly, a close call," Pompeo said in September.

The already strained US-China relationship has deteriorated further this year, leading to escalated tensions between the two rival powers. The Trump administration has significantly stepped up the pressure on Beijing, and there have been concerns that the incoming Biden administration might take its foot off the gas.

Although President-elect Joe Biden's approach to dealing with China remains to be seen, he said on the campaign trail that he intended to get "tough on China." He previously called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "thug."

Ratcliffe warns that"Beijing is preparing for an open-ended period of confrontation with the US" and that "Washington should also be prepared."

In a call for a bipartisan response to China, he argues that "leaders must work across partisan divides to understand the threat, speak about it openly, and take action to address it."

Ratcliffe, who became the director of national intelligence in May, said that "China should be America's primary national security focus going forward" and announced in his article that he has been reallocating funds within the $85 billion intelligence budget to better counter China.

At the US Naval Institute's Defense Forum Washington 2020 on Thursday morning, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke about the Pentagon's assessments of global threats, telling listeners at the virtual event that "the existential challenge is going ot be China."

"It just is," he said. "You have to come to grips with that."

Commenting on the recent escalation in bilateral tensions, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying claimed Thursday that "extremist anti-China forces in the United States" are targeting China "out of strong ideological bias and deep-seated Cold-War mentality."

"China urges the US government to view China and China's development in a more rational, calm and impartial manner and reject their hatred and distorted sentiments towards the [Communist Party of China]," she said.

Ratcliffe concluded his sharply worded warning and call to action by saying that "this generation will be judged by its response to China's effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower."

"The intelligence is clear," he said. "Our response must be as well."

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