One of the centers will focus exclusively on the Chinese threat and the other, called the Transnational and Technology Mission Center, will examine and search for technologies that can help fight global warming and protect CIA operatives worldwide File Photo by Dennis Brack/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The Central Intelligence Agency on Thursday announced the creation of two new mission centers as part of a strategy to address 21st-century threats -- including climate change, threats to American operatives and an increasingly "adversarial" China.
CIA Director William Burns detailed the mission centers in a statement that called the government in Beijing the "most important geopolitical threat" facing the United States.
One of the centers will focus exclusively on the Chinese threat and the other, called the Transnational and Technology Mission Center, will examine and search for technologies that can help fight global warming and protect CIA operatives worldwide by better detecting threat intelligence.
Acknowledging China as a "key rival" to the United States, the announcement said both mission centers stem from a series of strategic evaluations the CIA began last spring.
In remarks to CIA personnel on Wednesday, Burns said the China center will "strengthen our collective work" in monitoring China's rising influence. He noted that its large economy and global reach, Beijing is a unique and growing threat.
Burns said he will meet weekly with the head of the centers and other CIA leaders as part of the new ventures.
At his confirmation hearings in February, Burns identified China as a top global threat and the new mission centers reflect a more aggressive posture by the U.S. government under President Joe Biden.
"Today's landscape is increasingly complicated and competitive," he said during the Senate hearings. "It's a world where familiar threats persist -- from terrorism and nuclear proliferation, to an aggressive Russia, a provocative North Korea, and a hostile Iran."
"But it's also a world of new challenges, in which climate change and global health insecurity are taking a heavy toll on the American people; in which cyber threats pose an ever-greater risk to our society; and in which an adversarial, predatory Chinese leadership poses our biggest geopolitical test," he added.
Mission centers that were created in 2017 to focus on Iran and Korea will now be folded into outfits monitoring the Near East and East Asia, the agency said.
U.S. and Chinese officials announced on Wednesday that Biden will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in their first official summit sometime before the end of the year. The leaders, however, will meet remotely rather than in person, the officials said.