by WorldTribune Staff, May 16, 2018
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is launching an inquiry into China’s threats to U.S. national security in a shift from a focus on Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
“The committee will hold a series of hearings, both open and in secret, examining threats posed by … Beijing’s significant influence operations against the United States,” security correspondent Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Free Beacon on May 16, citing committee aides.
The hearings will also examine China’s growing footprint in the military, economic and technology arenas.
“The Russia probe pitted committee Republicans skeptical of alleged collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia to win the 2016 election, and Democrats opposed to the panel’s efforts to investigate Obama administration politicization and mishandling of intelligence,” Gertz wrote.
The new focus builds on a “growing consensus China is emerging as a greater national security challenge than other threats such as Russia, North Korea, Iran, and terrorism.”
The committee’s bipartisan effort is being directed by Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and committee chairman.
“These hearings are meant to highlight the many challenges China poses to our national security through its aggressive territorial claims, unfair trade policies, espionage and cyberattacks, and through other means,” Nunes told the Free Beacon.
“Our focus in the first hearing is to look at the military advances, quantitative and qualitative, and how it connects to China’s broader strategy for force projection and influence,” a committee aide told the Free Beacon.
China “is seeking to dominate the international order through a combination of infrastructure investment in the developing world and a network of overseas port facilities and military bases,” Gertz noted.
The committee’s concern “is not the snapshot of where the Chinese are today, but where they’re headed,” the aide said. “It takes a long time for us to shift and realize that we have a real threat.”
U.S. intelligence agencies for a long time “had blinders on” and misjudged Chinese activities, the aide said.
Gertz noted that the U.S. intel failures include “faulty intelligence estimates that China planned to limit its naval forces to regional conflicts. Instead, Beijing is rapidly building global naval warfare capabilities. Another shortcoming involved intelligence analysis indicating Chinese island-building in the South China Sea would not be used by Beijing to bully Southeast Asian states.”
China is in the midst of militarizing some 3,200 acres of reclaimed South China Sea islands with missiles and fighter jets – despite a promise by Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping that China would not use the islands for military purposes.
“Now we’ve got three small Pearl Harbor-like bases there with anti-ship missiles and an air defense umbrella,” the aide said.
The first hearing, set for May 17, will also focus on Chinese worldwide military expansion and how Beijing is using naval and air power and developing a global basing structure for power projection, the report said.