The report calls for “a significant realignment of resources,” including a resumed focus on nonkinetic threats such as infectious diseases, climate change and technological advancements to develop an intelligence posture more responsive to the strategic and emerging threats posed by Beijing.
It also calls for investing in developing the next generation of China analysts to be distributed throughout the intelligence community, and suggests that the government should expand its intelligence-gathering strategy to include departments and agencies not traditionally counted as part of the apparatus, to mount “more effective policy responses” to China in the future.
China’s growing stature as a global superpower has been punctuated by the Trump administration’s broad moves to ban the use of certain Chinese technologies and impose tariffs on imports from Beijing, sparking a trade war that many Democrats have criticized as economically reckless. Democrats also have criticized Trump for saying China is solely responsible for the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that he has done so to deflect personal responsibility for mismanaging the crisis.
But the committee’s document does not criticize Trump, and on Tuesday, Democrats on the panel agreed, at the request of Republicans, to remove a line blaming his administration for a “lack of coherent response” to the pandemic. The report does cite the pandemic as an example of how the United States’ primary focus on counterterrorism left Washington flat-footed when it came to identifying and understanding “soft” threats.
More generally, it faults Washington as having a pervasive lack of imagination and “deeply misplaced” expectations about the course and scale of China’s ascent, which has proceeded apace without the accompanying shift toward liberalization or democratization that many American experts had predicted.
China’s global footprint on trade, military expansion and technological dominance now make it “potentially capable of supplanting the United States as the leading power in the world,” the report found.
The report’s summary contains many redactions, and does not reflect the full scope of findings and recommendations in the classified version, which is several hundred pages. Although the document is a product of the committee’s majority, minority staff members were included in the research and fact-gathering process.
The unclassified portion of the report calls for the creation of a bipartisan study committee and a full-scale review of government intelligence expenditures, as well as an external audit of how ably agencies are monitoring and responding to open-source information.