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House Intelligence Committee Report Finds Absent Significant Funding and Prioritization Changes, Intelligence Community Will Struggle to Compete with China for Decades

Washington, DC – Today, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) under Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) released the unclassified executive summary of its report, “The China Deep Dive: A Report on the Intelligence Community’s Capabilities and Competencies with Respect to the People’s Republic of China.” The Committee voted to approve the report by voice vote.

This report is the culmination of a two year-long review by the Committee to determine whether the nation’s intelligence apparatus is focused, postured, and resourced to address the growing threat from China. The Committee sought to assess the IC’s ability to execute, with respect to China, its core mission of “collecting, analyzing, and delivering foreign intelligence and counterintelligence” to America’s leaders so they can make sound decisions.

The Committee found that “the United States’ Intelligence Community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change. Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the U.S. health and security.”

After releasing the executive summary, Chairman Schiff stated:

“Our nation’s intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China.

“After 9/11, we reoriented towards a mission to protect the homeland, and were very successful. But after two decades, the IC’s capacity to address hard targets like China has waned. Absent a significant and immediate reprioritization and realignment of resources, we will be ill-prepared to compete with China – diplomatically, economically, and militarily – on the global stage for decades to come.

“The stakes are enormous. We must do everything possible to accurately predict and characterize Beijing’s intent, or we will continue to struggle to understand how and why the leadership of the CCP makes decisions, and fail to respond effectively.

“The good news is that we still have time to adapt. It’s my hope that the Intelligence Community will work hand-in-hand with the congressional oversight committees to make these necessary changes quickly. We should all have the same goal – ensuring the U.S. and its intelligence community is prepared to effectively take on the China challenge.”

In support of this charge, staff reviewed thousands of analytic assessments, conducted hundreds of hours with IC officers, and visited facilities operated by over a dozen intelligence community elements. The Committee’s over two-hundred page report is divided into a public executive summary and classified chapters, each of which addresses a specific agency’s performance on China-related issues throughout the intelligence cycle: planning, collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and evaluation. Intelligence community elements were given the opportunity to provide input on the classified chapter that assesses their performance. 

The Committee also found and recommended:

  • “The Intelligence Community has failed to fully achieve the integration objectives outlined in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act for targets and topics unrelated to counterterrorism.”
  • “The multidimensional nature of the challenge that China presents requires an enhanced focus on non-defense intelligence, particularly strategic analysis in support of…non-defense customers.”
  • The Executive Branch, in consultation with Congress, “must undertake a zero-based review of all intelligence program expenditures…and take immediate corrective action to align taxpayer resources in support of strategic requirements.”
  • “The IC should formalize and broaden programs designed to mentor the next generation of China analysts” and “nurture cadres of officers with China-focused expertise.”
  • “The IC should consider developing a series of reskilling programs to leverage existing talent and expertise previously cultivated in counterterrorism programs.”

The emergence of China as a global competitor, the widespread if not yet fully understood global impact of COVID-19 and other transnational events, and prolonged focus of American intelligence resources towards counterterrorism make this an opportune and urgent moment to rebalance. Through this report, we attempt to assess our intelligence posture towards China and to provide strategic guidance to the IC as it repositions itself to better understand China’s domestic environment, capabilities, plans, and intentions.

The report notes that, “Notwithstanding the ongoing public debate on the advisability of interdependence, today’s globalized world necessitates thoughtful, detailed, and expansive analysis of how events within China—and how China’s leadership decides to react to those events—have the potential to meaningfully alter the world’s course.”

The Committee concludes that “the stakes are high. If the IC does not accurately characterize and contextualize Beijing’s intent, America’s leaders will fail to understand the factors that motivate Chinese decision-making. If policymakers do not understand how and why Beijing makes decisions, they will struggle to develop policies that result in outcomes favorable to U.S. interests and global security overall.”

To read the unclassified executive summary of the full report, click here. To read the unclassified fact sheet, click here.


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