"During the Cold War, both at the State Department and at CIA, we rightly forward-deployed Soviet specialists to help make sure that we could compete effectively. I think the same is true and this is one of the things that I'm exploring right now, to forward-deploy China specialists - whether it's operations officers, analysts, technologists as well - to make us more effective in that competition, in that rivalry in the field as well," Burns said on Thursday.
Burns said China is the biggest geopolitical challenge to the US in the 21st century, and that the technology sector is the biggest area of competition between the two countries.
China’s advanced technical surveillance capabilities such as smart cities have made staying ahead of the Chinese intelligence service and conducting espionage overseas much more complicated, Burns added. In response, he said, the CIA must likewise transform its own tradecraft.