CIA nominee: US must prepare for long-term competition with China

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s evolution over the past six years has been a very sharp wake-up call for the United States, US President Joe Biden’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) told Congress on Wednesday.

“The kind of aggressive, undisguised ambition and assertiveness, I think has made very clear the nature of the adversary we face today,” William Burns, a long-time diplomat, told the Senate Intelligence Committee during his confirmation hearing.

“We have to buckle up for the long haul in competition with China,” he added.

During his hearing, Burns also stressed the importance of language acquisition, especially Mandarin, for intelligence collection.

Burns, once an ambassador in Russia and Jordan, appeared to have widespread support from lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle.

The confirmation hearing is taking place over one month after Biden took office, and as other key positions remain in limbo.

Confirmation hearings were held this week for the nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland, and for interior secretary nominee Deb Haaland and the nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.

Only one nominee so far appears to be facing serious opposition, and that is Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House would continue to fight for her nomination.

“We’re focused on fighting for the person the president has nominated,” Psaki said.