American intelligence officials warned senators on Wednesday about the dangers posed to U.S. security by strengthening ties between China and Russia and Beijing’s continuing effort to provide secret military assistance to Moscow.
During a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Angus King, an independent of Maine, asked Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, whether the relationship between China and Russia was a temporary marriage of convenience or a long-term love affair.
Ms. Haines said that it was not simply a temporary partnership, but then added that the relationship had “some limitations.”
“We don’t see them becoming allies, the way we are with allies in NATO,” Ms. Haines said.
U.S. officials have publicly warned that China is considering providing lethal aid, such as ammunition, to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. The United States has determined that China hoped to provide artillery shells to Russia without being detected so that Beijing could maintain its public position of criticizing the United States for providing arms to Ukraine.
China has come under increasing pressure from the United States and its allies to use its influence on Russia to halt the war.
On Tuesday, the top Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, signaled in uncommonly blunt terms that China would take a hard stance against what he said was an attempt by the United States and other Western countries to pursue “all-around containment, encirclement and suppression of China.”
In an annual threat assessment released on Wednesday and in testimony before the Senate, leaders from the U.S. intelligence agencies said that China wanted to support Russia in its fight against Ukraine in part to weaken the United States.
“Despite global backlash over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China will maintain its diplomatic, defense, economic and technology cooperation with Russia to continue trying to challenge the United States, even as it will limit public support,” the threat assessment said.
Ms. Haines said on Wednesday that, in the long run, China was the most serious national security threat that the United States faces.
“The People’s Republic of China, which is increasingly challenging the United States economically, technologically, politically and militarily around the world, remains our unparalleled challenge,” Ms. Haines said.