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CIA Director William Burns. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

CIA Director Bill Burns announced Thursday that the agency is forming a China Mission Center to address "the most important geopolitical threat, we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government."

Why it matters: The U.S. intelligence community's annual global threat assessment warned that Beijing is seeking to spread its influence at the expense of the U.S., drive wedges between Western allies and "foster new international norms that favor the authoritarian Chinese system."

  • China's increased focus on military modernization, nuclear arms, space capabilities, cyber-espionage, and global influence and interference campaigns were named as especially critical threats to U.S. interests.
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray said last year that the bureau opens a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours.

The big picture: Burns unveiled the new China center as part of a suite of organizational changes designed to address modern intelligence challenges facing the U.S.

  • Those changes include a new CIA chief technology officer and a Transnational and Technology Mission Center, as well as a streamlining of the CIA application process and a new CIA Technology Fellows program to attract new talent, the agency said in a news release.
  • The overhaul will be spearheaded by CIA Deputy Director David Cohen.

Go deeper

Dec 6, 2021 - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Jan 13, 2022 - World

Biden administration criticizes China's move to cancel more flights

United Airlines flights are among the latests to be suspended. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House criticized China's decision to cancel more flights from the U.S. on Wednesday, saying it was "inconsistent with its obligations under the U.S.-China Air Transport Agreement."

Driving the news: China announced it suspended six flights over the course of the next week due to passengers testing positive for COVID-19, per Reuters.

32 mins ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."