William Burns, President Biden’s nominee for the director of the CIA, told the Senate committee that he saw Beijing as a competition. The former diplomat further added on Wednesday that countering the Chinese “predatory” leadership is key to America’s national security.
Previously, Burns served as a diplomat under both Democratic and Republican administrations and experts suggest that he is expected to easily win the Senate confirmation to be the director of the country’s intelligence agency. He had already been confirmed by the upper chamber of the US Congress for three senior positions in the State Department and his stints as an ambassador Russia and Jordan.
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On the other hand, the Senate Intelligence Committee will confirm his nomination next week. While testifying before the Committee, Burns outlined his important priorities as people, partnerships, technology, and China. He described Beijing as an “authoritarian adversary” that represses its citizens and ability to steal intellectual property as well as to establish an influence in the US.
In response to Burns’s comment, Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, urged Washington to cast aside its “zero-sum mentality” and adopt a constructive diplomatic approach towards Beijing. While speaking at the daily news briefing, he added that the previous administration had inflicted damage to Sino-US relations.
During the committee session, when Burns recommended shutting down what he called “Confucius institutes” and cultural centers that many Congressional leaders see as Chinee propaganda centers. Besides, he is expected to be the first professional diplomat to lead the intelligence agency.
On Wednesday, the lawmakers from both parties praised the former diplomat. Richard Burr, the Republican Senator, stated that he looked forward to Biden’s confirmation hearing. Plus, Ron Wyden, a Democrat said that he would support Burns and appreciated his record on human rights. Meanwhile, political experts suggest that competition with China is the top priority for the new administration and for American legislators, who want a tough approach towards Beijing.
On the other hand, Kremlin’s growing aggression is also a constant concern for Washington, especially its involvement in the American presidential elections and cyberattacks that penetrated several government agencies. Biden’s candidate for CIA also stated that the administration would soon start work on producing an assessment on Moscow-related issues.
In 2013, Burns help lead the secret talks with Tehran that ultimately paved the way for the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. He told the senate leaders that the Iranian regime must never be allowed to produce a nuclear weapon. It comes a week after Biden offered to sit down with Tehran and other parties on the pact to see if there was a way to rejoin the pact.
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