Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe warned Americans that China is running a “massive influence campaign” to bend U.S. lawmakers to the will of the communist government, and called it the country’s top national threat.
Ratcliffe made the accusations in a startling op-ed in the Washington Post published Thursday.
“If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II,” wrote Ratcliffe.
He explained that evidence gathered by the U.S. intelligence community indicated that the goal of China’s government is to dominate the globe “economically, militarily and technologically.”
Ratcliffe said that the country uses the camouflage of its prominent companies to rob intellectual property from American companies, replicate their innovations, and then replace them in the global marketplace.
He gave an example of how Chinese owned company in the U.S. could use its influence to subtly manipulate politicians to do the will of the communist government back home.
Consider this scenario: A Chinese-owned manufacturing facility in the U.S. employs several thousand Americans. One day, the plant’s union leader is approached by a representative of the Chinese firm. The businessman explains that the local congresswoman is taking a hard-line position on legislation that runs counter to Beijing’s interests—even though it has nothing to do with the industry the company is involved in—and says the union leader must urge her to shift positions or the plant and all its jobs will soon be gone.
The union leader contacts his congresswoman and indicates that his members won’t support her re-election without a change in position. He tells himself he’s protecting his members, but in that moment he’s doing China’s bidding, and the congresswoman is being influenced by China, whether she realizes it or not.
Radcliffe also said that China had been crossing ethical boundaries by experimenting with human subjects in order to develop soldiers with enhanced abilities.
He concluded by warning that America needed to be prepared for the challenges from China.
“Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain. This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower,” wrote Ratcliffe.
“The intelligence is clear,” he concluded. “Our response must be as well.”