Former Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) William Evanina called China “an existential threat” at a hearing Thursday of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence: “It’s the most complex, pernicious, aggressive, strategic threat our nation has ever faced.”
Evanina pointed to intellectual property theft, high-tech espionage, and efforts to co-opt the U.S. government by electing CCP officials—something he called “elite capture”—as some of the biggest threats from the Asian superpower.
“The Communist Party of China strategically conducts malign influence campaigns at the state and local level with precision,” he said. “This effort must be exposed and mitigated.”
The former NCSC director also warned that “80 percent of American adults have had all of their private data stolen by the Communist Party of China.”
His concerns were echoed by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Gen. Joseph T. Guastella, who said he is “deeply concerned about the threats of the Chinese Communist Party … towards the U.S. homeland.”
Guastella suggested that China’s rapid military advancement can be attributed to its studying American technology and methods.
“China went to school on us,” he stated at the Capitol Hill hearing titled “Confronting Threats Posed by the Chinese Communist Party to the U.S. Homeland.”
“Their military now enjoys leading-edge capabilities that include long-range precision strike hypersonic weapons, advanced integrated air defense weapons, stealthy aircraft surface-to-air missiles, and electronic warfare.”
On the recent Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon—which traversed American airspace in early February before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina—a Brown University professor said the incident illustrates the CCP’s willingness to assume risks in the pursuit of intelligence. A solution could lie in strategic transparency by the U.S. government, he said.
“The U.S. government needs to better disclose its understanding of the threats that China poses to Homeland Security,” said Tyler Jost, Assistant Professor of Political Science, International and Public Affairs at Brown University and Watson Institute Assistant Professor of China Studies.
“Specifically, it needs to provide citizens with more data about the different risks that American citizens assume when they use foreign technologies.”
The threat China poses is not limited to the military or the government. Private Chinese companies like Huawei and TikTok have come under scrutiny for their data practices and alleged ties to the CCP.
In recent years, concerns have grown about the use of Chinese-made components in critical U.S. infrastructure, like power grids and transportation systems.
Dealing With the CCP Threat
Evanina stressed the need for a coordinated response to these threats, saying that “the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach must be taken to mitigate the threat that China poses.”
So what can be done to protect American citizens and infrastructure from the technological threat China poses?
One suggested approach by the panelists was to limit the use of foreign technologies in critical systems. In the last year of his presidency, Donald Trump banned defense-related utilities from using Chinese-made components in their power grids.
Another approach offered was to increase investment in domestic technology and research. By developing cutting-edge technologies at home, the United States can reduce its reliance on foreign components and better protect its intellectual property.
President Joe Biden has pledged $50 billion to U.S. semiconductor manufacturers to achieve this goal. However, some economists believe this effort will be counterproductive.
“The government needs to stay out of it,” said Peter Schiff, founder and chief economist at Euro Pacific Asset Management, reacting to the bailout announcement last fall.
“This is an example of socialism. And this is going to fail.”
Ultimately, the threat posed by China is a complex and multifaceted one.
As Evanina put it, “we must be proactive in identifying and mitigating this threat before it becomes a catastrophic event.”
Guastella agreed, saying that “we need to be smart about how we approach this threat. We can’t just rely on the old ways of doing things.”
“We need to be agile and innovative in our approach, and we need to work together to protect our homeland from the threats posed by China.”
Critics argue that, while the Chinese government is committing terrible atrocities domestically, it does not pose a serious threat to the continental United States.
Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, believes these rising tensions are untenable and is concerned about where a monolithic mindset of hostility will lead in the age of nuclear weapons.
“The House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing today demonstrates the new hysterical consensus in Washington that China is not only an enemy but possibly the greatest threat the United States has ever faced,” DeCamp told the Epoch Times.
“This thinking and the lack of opposition to it is more dangerous than the Chinese Communist Party could ever be and will make war between two nuclear powers inevitable.”