China’s effort to expand its growing influence represents one of the largest threats to the United States, according to a major annual intelligence report released Tuesday, which also warned of the broad national security challenges posed by Moscow and Beijing.
The report does not predict a military confrontation with either Russia or China, but it suggests that so-called gray-zone battles for power, which are meant to fall short of inciting all-out war, will intensify with intelligence operations, cyberattacks and global drives for influence.
The assessment highlights the opportunities and challenges for the Biden administration. Iran, for instance, has not advanced its work on a nuclear weapon, potentially giving President Joe Biden some room to manoeuvre. But it paints a grim prognosis for a peace deal in Afghanistan, a day before Biden is set to announce that he will withdraw U.S. forces by September. Critics could use the report to suggest that the president is ignoring intelligence agencies’ predictions as he pushes forward with the drawdown.
While much of the report describes traditional national security challenges, it also gives far more attention to climate change and global health than previous threat assessments have done.