Biden’s CIA Director creates a high-ranking unit focusing on China.
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden has been named as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The unit will be aimed at focusing the agency’s attention on China in a time when tensions are high between the two largest economies.
On Thursday, William Burns, Director of the CIA, stated that the China Mission Center he was establishing “cuts across all the agency’s mission areas,” while noting that the CIA is concerned that the “threat is not from its people but the Chinese government.”
Senior CIA officials compared Burns’ creation of a China unit to the agency’s intense focus on Russia during Cold War and its emphasis on counter-terrorism after the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington.
The agency had never before created a high-level unit that was specifically focused on China, even after the harsh attacks by Donald Trump and his aides.
According to a senior official, the new China unit was part of a series of reshuffles resulting from the agency’s extensive review last spring. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Relations with Beijing were strained in the first months of the Biden administration.
These relations were hampered by significant differences on many issues, including human rights and the South China Sea.
However, top officials from both countries met this past week to improve communication. Set the scene for a virtual meeting between presidents by the end of the year.
The official stated that other agency moves included merging the Trump administration’s Iran Mission Center into a larger Middle East unit and merging the team focusing on Korea to a broader East Asia-Pacific division.
Burns stated that the CIA was also creating a position as a Chief Technology Officer and a new office, the Transnational and Technology Mission Center.
The senior official stated that this unit would allow the agency to be more focused on issues like global health, climate change, humanitarian disasters, and the disruption caused by new technology.
The agency will also establish a program that encourages qualified employees to work as “technology fellows” in the private sector for up to a year.
According to the senior official, the agency also had “incident cells” that would oversee the response to Havana Syndrome.”
“This mysterious illness has affected many diplomats and CIA employees. Some of these have been “diagnosed as a real harm.”
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