CIA Director William Burns made a covert trip to Beijing last month for meetings with senior CCP (Chinese Communist Party) officials in an apparent attempt to restore the deteriorating relations between the United States and China.
According to the Financial Times, Burns allegedly met with Chinese intelligence officials, five people familiar with the situation said. The trip highlights how concerned Biden is over the deepening rifts in official communication between the two superpowers.
“Last month, director Burns traveled to Beijing where he met with Chinese counterparts and emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of communications in intelligence channels,” a U.S. government official told the outlet.
Burns’ China visit was alleged to have taken place during the same month as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s meeting in Vienna with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.
Relations between the Biden Administration and China have worsened in recent months due to the Chinese spy balloon scandal. However, after Burns’ alleged China trip, the president commented that he expects a “thaw” in relations between the two superpowers.
According to the Daily Caller, the director of the Carnegie China think tank, Paul Haenle, said the Biden administration probably chose Burns because he is respected by both Republicans and Democrats and is familiar to Chines government officials.
“They know him as a trusted interlocutor. They would welcome the opportunity to engage him quietly behind the scenes,” Haenle stated to the FT. “They will see a quiet discreet engagement with Burns as a perfect opportunity.”
The reported trip comes after the Daily Caller revealed last year that Burns previously led an elite Washington, D.C. think tank that had undisclosed Chinese Communist Party-linked employees. The report prompted Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) to demand Burns address his alleged “strong ties” to China.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace had at least 20 undisclosed members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) working for the organization under Burns’ leadership between February 2015 and November 2021. In a letter shared with DCNF, Gooden expressed concerns over Burns’ ability to lead the CIA after heading the CCP-influenced think tank.
“The vast influence the CCP had at Carnegie during your tenure as president and the continued influence they have today — despite claims you made at your confirmation hearing that you had ended the CCP’s influence — presents a significant lapse in judgment and brings into question your ability to identify and mitigate national security risks,” Gooden’s letter stated.