William Burns, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) appointed by President Joe Biden, is coming under heavy criticism after it came to light that he maintained, or maintains, a close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Before becoming CIA director, Burns served as director of a major think tank in Washington D.C. So far there would seem to be no problem. But a Daily Caller investigation revealed that the think tank did not disclose that it employed dozens of members of the CCP, which opened a strong controversy.
The think tank in question is known as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recognized for advising U.S. and foreign rulers and officials, was led by Burns from February 2015 until November 2021, the year he was nominated as CIA director.
At least 20 CCP members reportedly worked with Burns
As reported by the Daily Caller, at least 20 employees were members of the CCP in the period Burns led the agency. Four of whom he hired.
The Caller discovered the communist roots of these employees after analyzing hundreds of Chinese-language Communist Party branch records and profiles of more than a dozen organizations linked to it.
The CCP members singled out in the investigation worked at both Carnegie’s Washington, headquarters and Carnegie-Tsinghua, the Beijing center that Jessica Mathews, Burns’s predecessor opened in cooperation with Tsinghua University.
FBI alarmed by CCP’s “malicious operations” in the U.S.
The CCP is justly one of the U.S. government’s declared public enemies—it represents one of the greatest threats to national security according to national agencies.
Burns’s tenure as director of Carnegie coincided with an increase in tensions between the U.S. government and the Chinese Communist Party. So much so that the FBI raised an alarm that the CCP was conducting “malign influence operations” against key U.S. institutions.
The report released at the time by the FBI stated that of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases the FBI currently had underway across the country, nearly half were related to China.
It also highlighted a report signed by Christopher Wray, the director of the agency at the time, that the threat is not Chinese citizens but their government, specifically the CCP and the people who work for it.
The CIA rightly has among its objectives to detect any kind of threat against American security, so the fact that its current director has worked together with direct members of the CCP, knowingly or unknowingly, could represent a real scandal.
Burns’s striking remarks about China
Strikingly, after working for more than six years in direct contact with a score of CCP members, prior to taking up his post as CIA director, Burns said that the CCP represents a real threat to the security of the United States.
“I think the evolutions of Xi Jinping’s China over the last six or seven years has been a very sharp wake-up call,” said Burns in February 2021. “The kind of aggressive, undisguised ambition and assertiveness I think has made very clear the nature of the adversary and the rival that we face today.”
He also insisted on the importance of the United States developing an internal consensus among various agencies and officials on how to deal with the communist regime over the long term, in order to ensure security in the face of the communist threat.
His words sounded convincing, although they are at odds with the reality of his cooperation with thinkers directly associated with the communist regime he purported to criticize.
This reality raises a number of questions about Burns. On the one hand, it is extremely serious if he really allowed experts linked to the regime to be associated with a group such as Carnegie, known to be highly influential in various democratic governments around the world, including major powers and Western officials.
It is also feasible that Burns may not have known of these people’s connections to the CCP, but if so, is Burns qualified to lead an agency as important to security as the CIA?
Other Allegations Proving Burns’s Relationship to the CCP
During a Senate hearing in March 2021, already active CIA Director William Burns made strong statements indicating his willingness to resist China’s influence in the United States.
“There are, however, a growing number of areas in which Xi’s China is a formidable, authoritarian adversary — methodically strengthening its capabilities to steal intellectual property, repress its own people, bully its neighbors, expand its global reach, and build influence in American society,” Burns stated.
When asked about threats by organizations such as China-US Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) to infiltrate U.S. institutions, Burns deflected the question by stating that the CCP “seeks to influence political, economic, and cultural developments in the CCP’s interests.”
CUSEF is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, which seeks to “co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party” and “influence foreign governments to take action or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies,” according to the U.S. government.
But the question was especially aimed at him, since as published in a newspaper investigation during 2021, Burns has a history of relationships with CUSEF during his years leading Carnegie.
It should be noted that Carnegie received millions of dollars from CUSEF to boost the Carnegie-Tsinghua center.
Following the recent allegations that Burns had a relationship with members of the CCP, neither he nor the CIA nor Carnegie have so far issued any comment. Given the seriousness of the allegations, it is expected that officials committed to fighting the Chinese communist regime’s outrages will soon demand explanations from the CIA official in charge, as has happened on other occasions.