Intel chief: China targeting members of Congress as part of ‘massive influence campaign’
Chuck Ross, DCNF
John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said Thursday that the Chinese government is targeting multiple members of Congress as part of a “massive” foreign influence campaign.
In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Ratcliffe said that Beijing is targeting lawmakers with six times the frequency of Russia and 12 times more than the government of Iran.
“This year China engaged in a massive influence campaign that included targeting several dozen members of Congress and congressional aides,” Ratcliffe wrote in the op-ed, entitled “China Is National Security Threat No. 1.”
“Our intelligence shows that Beijing regularly directs this type of influence operation in the U.S.,” he wrote, noting that he has briefed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees “that China is targeting members of Congress with six times the frequency of Russia and 12 times the frequency of Iran.”
Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas, said that in order to confront the emerging intelligence threat posed by China, he has reallocated $85 billion from the annual intelligence community budget to focus on China.
“This shift must continue to ensure U.S. intelligence has the resources it needs to give policy makers unvarnished insights into China’s intentions and activities.”
DNI Ratcliffe tells @CBS_Herridge that China is using blackmail, bribery and covert influence to target members of Congress and make sure “only laws that are favorable to China are passed” pic.twitter.com/3hQ23hXvtF
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) December 3, 2020
Ratcliffe expanded on his op-ed during an interview with CBS News.
“They want laws and policies out of the United States that are favorable to China,” Ratcliffe said of Chinese agents targeting U.S. lawmakers.
“And what they’re really trying to do is through blackmail, through bribery, through overt and covert influence, trying to make sure that only laws that are favorable to China are passed.”
The intelligence community has also seen an uptick in “malign” diplomatic influence efforts directed at members of the incoming Biden administration, William Evanina, the top counterintelligence official at ODNI, said Wednesday.
“We’ve also seen an uptick, which was planned and we predicted, that China would now re-vector their influence campaigns to the new administration,” Evanina said at the Aspen Cyber Summit.
Ratcliffe made another startling revelation in his Journal op-ed. He said that as part of Beijing’s “aggressive plan to make China the world’s foremost military power,” the Chinese government has “conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities.”
“There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power.”