July 21 (UPI) -- China is waging a 'cold war' against the United States of America, a CIA agent told an Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
"I would argue ... that what they're waging against us is fundamentally a cold war - a cold war not like we saw during THE Cold War [between the U.S. and the Soviet Union] but a cold war by definition," Deputy Assistant Director Michael Collins of the CIA's East Asia Mission Center told the Washington Post Columnist and Associate Editor David Ignatius who moderated Aspen Security Forum in Colorado Friday. "A country that exploits all avenues of power," including "economic, military" to undermine the standing of its rival compared to its "own standing without resorting to conflict."
Collins added that the threat is not necessarily coming from China itself, but its current leadership, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has tried to undermine U.S. standing relative to China.
"At the end of the day, the Chinese fundamentally seek to replace the United States as the leading power in the world," Collins said. "I say that where we wouldn't have said that 10-15 years ago."
Collins' comments on the third day of the forum are similar to statements that FBI Director Christopher Wray told NBC News Lester Holt, who moderated the forum earlier this week.
"China, from a counter-intelligence perspective, in many ways represents the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country," Wray said.
Compared to Russia's interference in U.S. elections, Wray said the China threat was more economic.
"China is trying to position itself as the sole dominant superpower, the sole dominant economic power, they're trying to replace the United States in that role," Wray said.
Wray added that China's threat "involves everything from agriculture to high tech," and is also a "more pervasive, a broader approach, but in many ways more of a long-term threat to the country."
The comments come on the heels of China filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization on Monday over the United States' plan to put tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
Tensions in U.S.-China relations have gotten worse recently with an escalating trade war between the countries as they impose billions of dollars of tariffs on each other.