Report: CIA Chief Secretly Visited China Amid Tensions

Image copyright: US Department of State/Flickr [via Wikimedia Commons]

The Facts

  • CIA Director Bill Burns covertly traveled to Beijing last month to meet with his Chinese counterparts and stress the importance of keeping the lines of communication open, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing five people familiar with the matter.

  • Burns is the highest-level US official to visit the PRC since the February suspected Chinese spy balloon incident. He has often been deployed by Pres. Joe Biden on sensitive, secret missions, including to Afghanistan and Russia in 2021.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

If the Biden admin. really wants to thaw bilateral relations with Beijing, it should start respecting China's core interests and taking concrete actions to match its words instead of merely engaging in superficial interactions to restore high-level communications. While the US has indeed changed its rhetoric, its true intentions of containing China haven't changed at all.

Anti-China narrative

Though the US has been trying to mend ties with China following months of strained relations, the predicted thaw has been obstructed as Beijing adopts a tougher stance with regard to tech export controls and demands the dropping of sanctions imposed on its officials and companies. If China remains intransigent, pushing to set its own terms to re-engage with the US, cooling tensions will be very difficult.

Nerd narrative

There's an 8% chance that there will be active warfare between the US and China before 2027, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

Establishment split



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