“I would say that already Taiwan is hardening, to some extent, toward independence as they’re watching, essentially, what happened in Hong Kong, and I think that is an increasing challenge,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said in a hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Questions about China dominated the “Worldwide Threats” hearing with Haines and Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Ties between the U.S. and China have remained tense into the Biden administration, which has continued to criticize Chinese actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
Haines previously called China an “unparalleled priority” for the intelligence community.
The spy chief was pressed by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the panel’s chairman, on the impact that a shift clarifying America’s long-held position of “strategic ambiguity” on defending Taiwan if it’s attacked would have in both Beijing and Taipei. Such a move would involve the U.S. saying definitively that it would come to Taiwan’s defense in case of attack.
China “would find this deeply, deeply destabilizing,” and it would “solidify Chinese perceptions that the U.S. is bent on constraining China’s rise, including through military force,” Haines said.
China has landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time in the latest step forward for its ambitious space program