The biggest foreign threat to election security in the United States is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), according to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.
But Ratcliffe went further in emphasizing the danger posed by Beijing.
Ratcliffe said Beijing is concerned that President Donald Trump will win reelection, adding that the intelligence community has briefed “hundreds of members of Congress” to raise their concerns about China “and its increased efforts to impact the U.S. policy climate in its favor.”
The assessment by Ratcliffe follows a series of comments by U.S. intelligence officials making the point that the CCP doesn’t want Trump to remain in the White House for a second term.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien said earlier this month that China is targeting the nation’s election infrastructure with cyberattacks.
“China—like Russia, like Iran—they’ve engaged in cyberattacks and phishing and that sort of thing with respect to our election infrastructure, with respect to websites and that sort of thing,” the adviser said.
The CCP is working hard to influence the election and policy arguments, including putting pressure on elected officials and candidates that Party leaders view as being opposed to the CCP’s interests.
The Trump administration’s increasingly hard-line stance against China, including its forced closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, has led to an increase in criticism against the administration, according to Evanina.
“Although China will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action, its public rhetoric over the past few months has grown increasingly critical of the current Administration’s COVID-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate, and actions on other issues,” Evanina said. He noted that recent statements from Beijing support his assessment.
A string of U.S. officials this year has given speeches dedicated entirely to exposing the CCP’s influence and how the different U.S. departments are handling the risks.
One example of how this all-of-government strategy is being rolled out has been the nation’s response to China’s Huawei technology as well as the recent bans on Chinese-owned TikTok.