Thu, Jan 31, 2019 - Page 1 News List

US spy agencies say China aims to claim Taiwan

AN EVENTUALITY:China controls the information environment inside the nation and is increasingly able to shape information relating to itself abroad

Staff writer, with CNA

US FBI Director Christopher Wray is pictured in an official photograph that appears on the agency’s Web site.

Screengrab from the US FBI Web site

US intelligence agencies on Tuesday indicated that they expect Beijing to continue its efforts to force Taiwan to accept its “one China” principle and ultimately Chinese control.

Top US security officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, presented their annual assessment of global threats at a meeting of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Beijing would almost certainly continue to use pressure and incentives to try to force Taiwan to unify with China, according to the assessment.

Moreover, China continues to monitor Washington’s reaction to gauge its resolve in the region, the report said.

Beijing has since 2016 persuaded six of Taiwan’s 23 diplomatic partners, most recently Burkina Faso and El Salvador, to recognize China instead of Taiwan, the 42-page analysis said.

More broadly, the assessment said that Beijing has been successfully lobbying for Chinese nationals to obtain senior posts in the UN Secretariat and associated organizations, and is using its influence to pressure the UN and UN member states to accept its position on issues such as human rights and Taiwan.

“Beijing already controls the information environment inside China, and it is expanding its ability to shape information and discourse relating to China abroad, especially on issues that Beijing views as core to party legitimacy, such as Taiwan, Tibet and human rights,” the report added.

The assessment predicted that China would continue to increase its maritime presence in the South China Sea, building military and dual-use infrastructure on the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) to improve its ability to control access, project power and undermine US influence in the area.

The report listed concerns about China’s desire to seek control over claimed waters with a whole-of-government strategy, compel Southeast Asian claimants to acquiesce to Beijing’s claims — at least tacitly — and bolster China’s narrative in the region that the US is in decline and Beijing’s pre-eminence is inevitable.

The report issued a harsh warning about the cyberespionage threat posed by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

“China, Russia, Iran and North Korea increasingly use cyberoperations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways — to steal information, to influence our citizens or to disrupt critical infrastructure,” the intelligence report said.

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