The Obama administration appears to be in the early phase of a policy shift on China. Tougher rhetoric and policies, most recently demonstrated by remarks in Asia from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, coincide with the departures of two key officials long known for advocating more conciliatory policies toward Beijing.
Paul Heer, who for years held the influential post of national intelligence officer for East Asia, retired recently, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said. From his position as the most senior intelligence official on China, Mr. Heer was known for a steadfast bias that sought to play down the various threats posed by China in favor of more conciliatory views. His influence also is said to have extended to personnel appointments within the CIA’s analytical section, which critics say resulted in "groupthink" on China.
A second major personnel change was the departure last week of the White House’s senior China specialist, Evan Medeiros, who left after a reported dispute with White House National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice. Ms. Rice has a reputation as a prickly manager known for swearing profusely at subordinates. Mr. Medeiros was regarded by critics as among the most pro-China policymakers in the White House’s highly centralized foreign policy and national security power structure.
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