America's intelligence chief and lawmakers have expressed considerable concern that China is carrying out a well-orchestrated strategy to replace United States as the leading global power.
''As such, the United States is pulling out all of its elements of intelligence gathering to provide a very, very deep dive into the Chinese plan,'' Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
He was responding to concerns of American Senators in this regard.
''The biggest issue of our time, in the view of most of the members of this committee and, I would venture to guess, most of the members of this panel, is China and the risk they pose,'' Senator Marco Rubio said during a hearing on the US intelligence community's 'Worldwide Threat Assessment'.
Coats said the US has full awareness of what the Chinese are attempting to do on a global basis.
''There's no question that what you have just articulated is what's happening with China. They're doing it in a very smart way… a very effective way. They are looking beyond their own region. It's clear that they have a long-term strategic objective to become a world power,'' he said.
Of course, China makes no secret of its ambition to challenge the US as the world's sole superpower, and some will see little wrong with this. For that matter, India too has ambitions of becoming a world power - especially since the Narendra Modi government came into office - though it is nowhere near China in resources or efficiency.
But it is interesting to see how deeply the US is concerned about China's rise. Coats said China is executing ways in which it can accomplish the objective to become a world power.
''We have intensive studies going on throughout the intelligence community, relative to A to Z on what China is doing. General Mattis (the US armed forces chief) has asked us for that. Others have asked us to provide that,'' Coats said.
''We are pulling all of our elements of intelligence gathering together to provide a very, very deep dive into what China's plan - is doing now and what their plans are for the future and how it would - impact on the US,'' he said.
Senator Rubio said, ''I'm not sure, in the 240-some-odd-year history of his nation, we've ever faced a competitor and potential adversary of this scale, scope and capacity. It is my personal view and shared by many people that they are carrying out a well-orchestrated, well-executed, very patient long-term strategy to replace the United States as the most powerful and influential nation on earth.
''You see that reflected in this repeated use of this term, 'community of common destiny,' which basically means a retreat from western values of democracy and freedom and openness, towards some other model that benefits them,'' he said.
Rubio said that the Chinese appear to be pursuing this with every element of their national power: their military, commerce, trade, economics, information and media.
''The tools they use are everything from hacking into companies and critical infrastructure and defence contractors - everybody you can imagine - to using our immigration system against us, to even our universities,'' Rubio said.
Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he is concerned that China has developed an all-of-society, not just all-of-government, approach to gain access to sensitive technologies and intellectual property.
''I'm paying a great deal of attention to the rise of China's technology sector. In particular, I'm worried about the close relationship between the Chinese government and Chinese technology firms, particularly in the area of commercialisation of our surveillance technology and efforts to shape telecommunication equipment markets,'' he said.
''I want to ensure that the IC is tracking the direction that China's tech giants are heading, and especially the extent to which they are beholden to the Chinese government. In recent years, we've seen major technologies firms whose rise is attributed in part to the illicit access of US technology and IP,'' Warner said.
''These companies now represent some of the leading market players globally…But, as they enter Western economic markets, we want to ensure that they play by the rules. We need to make sure that this is not a new way for China to gain access to sensitive technology.''