Trump spy chief says China biggest threat to freedom since WWII

China Daily blames Trump for the discord as US spy chief labels China the biggest threat to freedom since World War II.

Relations between the world's two largest economies have sunk to their lowest point in decades over issues such as trade, technology, security, human rights and COVID-19 [File: Susan Walsh/AP]
Correction4 Dec 2020
A previous version of this article stated that the US embassy in China called John Ratcliffe's article "fact-distorting" and showed "an entrenched Cold War mindset". In fact, it was the Chinese embassy in the US that made these comments, as is now reflected below.

The spy chief of outgoing US President Donald Trump has labelled China the biggest threat to democracy and freedom since World War II, as Chinese state media warned some damage to Sino-US ties was “beyond repair”.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that China was bent on global domination.

“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” he warned.

In a potentially incendiary allegation, Ratcliffe also said China’s economic espionage approach was threefold: “Rob, Replicate and Replace”.

The Chinese embassy in the US said the spy chief’s article was “fact-distorting” and showed “an entrenched Cold War mindset”. It also claimed the US government and companies were involved in cyber-theft.

Ratcliffe’s comments came as Chinese state media questioned the state of relations between the two countries, which have sunk to their lowest point in decades over issues such as trade, human rights, Hong Kong and COVID-19.

The government-backed newspaper China Daily said in an editorial it viewed Washington’s decision this week to limit visitor visas for Chinese Communist Party members and their families and a ban on Xinjiang cotton imports as “worrisome signs”.

“Even if the incoming administration has any intention of easing the tensions that have been sown, and continue being sown, some damage is simply beyond repair, as the sitting US president intends,” the newspaper said.

Bilateral ties are being shifted onto “a dangerous path”, it added.

‘Mutual respect’

Meanwhile, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, appeared to signal a desire to reset the increasingly confrontational relationship as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January.

“There are always differences between the two countries. None of them justifies confrontation and war, cold or hot,” Cui said on Twitter on Thursday.

“With sufficient mutual respect and mutual understanding, we are capable of managing these differences so that they would not derail the entire relationship.”

It is unclear whether a Biden administration will bring a dramatic shift, however.

Cui Tiankai - US
Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, has signalled a desire to reset the increasingly confrontational China-US relations as President-elect Biden prepares to take office [Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA]

The Democrat told the New York Times this week that he would not remove existing tariffs set by the Trump administration against China for now.

In response, another state-owned Chinese publication, the Global Times, reminded the incoming president to be “fully aware of the devastating effect of the tariffs on the US economy”.

“Still, it is imperative to remind all that the tariffs have been ruled illegal by the WTO, and have been widely deemed to have cost the US more than [it has] gained.”

Legislation targeting China or Chinese officials for charges of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and a crackdown against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have also won broad bipartisan support in the US Congress, as well, further suggesting that the current tenor of US policy towards China will remain.


An exchange of insults on Thursday between US Senator Marsha Blackburn and China Daily journalist Chen Weihua – underscored some of the animosity simmering beneath the surface.

Blackburn, a Republican and one of the more outspoken China critics, claimed without evidence on Twitter that China had “a 5,000 year history of cheating and stealing”.

Chen replied to her tweet, accusing Blackburn of being the most “racist and ignorant” US senator he has seen and calling her a “b**ch.” The Global Times editor-in-chief also waded into the social media exchange writing that the senator’s “cognitive level was as low as a monkey’s”.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters