The CIA director said Chinese President Xi Jinping had been “disturbed” by the Ukrainian war, which had shown that the Beijing-Moscow friendship had “limits” at a time when Western allies they were approaching.
Speaking at the FT Weekend Festival in Washington on Saturday, Bill Burns said the “bitter experience” of the first 10 to 11 weeks of the conflict had shocked the Chinese leadership and could be affecting their calculations regarding Taiwan.
“It simply came to our notice then. . . that Xi Jinping is a little worried about the damage to the reputation that may come to China by the association with the brutality of Russia’s aggression against the Ukrainians [and] No doubt he was concerned about the economic uncertainty caused by the war, “Burns said, adding that Xi’s” main focus “was” predictability. ”
He added that China was also dismayed by the “fact that what Putin has done is bringing Europeans and Americans closer” and was looking “closely at what lessons they should learn” for Taiwan.
“I don’t think a minute has eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control of Taiwan,” although “it affected his calculation,” Burns said.
Burns said Xi’s China was “the biggest geopolitical challenge we face in the long run as a country,” though Putin’s Russia threat cannot be underestimated.
“[Putin] it shows in a very disturbing way that declining powers can be at least as damaging as they grow, “Burns said.
Burns spoke after Biden administration officials tried to downplay reports that U.S. intelligence officials had helped Ukraine attack and kill Russian generals on the battlefield and sink the Moskva, a Russian ship in the Black Sea.
“It’s irresponsible, it’s very risky, it’s dangerous when people talk too much. Whether it’s private filtering or public speaking about specific intelligence issues, “Burns said.
The CIA director, a former senior diplomat from previous US administrations, added that it would be a “big mistake” to underestimate Ukraine’s intelligence capabilities.
“It simply came to our notice then. They have a lot more information than us and a lot more intelligence than us in the US and among our allies, “he said.
Burns said Putin was not discouraged from continuing to advance the war, saying the second phase of the conflict as he moved to the eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region was “at least as risky “or” even riskier “than the first phase where Russia failed. gain control of Kyiv, the capital.
“[Putin] he is in a state of mind in which he does not think he can afford to lose; so the stakes are pretty high at this stage, “Burns said.” I think he’s convinced right now that doubling. . . will allow you to move forward “.
The CIA director said that while US intelligence did not see “practical evidence” that Russia was planning to deploy tactical nuclear weapons, “we cannot take these possibilities lightly” given the ruin of the sabers. of Russia.