U.S. spy chief: China-Russia ties 'continuing to deepen'

STORY: The heads of America's intelligence agencies on Wednesday testified that China will expand its cooperation with Russia in an effort to challenge the U.S., despite international condemnation of Moscow's war on Ukraine.

Here's Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines:

"We don't see them becoming allies sort of the way we are with allies in NATO, but nevertheless we do see increasing across every sector."

Wednesday's hearing focused on worldwide threats, and centered on the Chinese Communist party, or CCP.

"In brief, the CCP represents both the leading and most consequential threat to US national security and leadership globally, and its intelligence-specific ambitions and capabilities make it for us our most serious and consequential intelligence rival.

In recent weeks the U.S. has publicly warned China against providing weapons to Russia as its forces mount a grinding offensive in Ukraine's east. Beijing has denied considering sending lethal aid to Moscow.

DNI Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee that U.S. spy services were watching closely for signs China might be directly - but not publicly - supporting Russia.

"We do see them providing assistance to Russia in the context of the conflict, and we see them in a situation in which they've become increasingly uncomfortable about the level of assistant and not do it as publicly as might otherwise occur."

Haines said Chinese President Xi Jinping views the U.S. as an adversary in achieving his regional objectives.

"To fulfill Xi's vision, however, the CCP is increasingly convinced it can only do so at the expense of U.S. power and influence, and by using coordinated, whole-of-government tools to demonstrate strength and compel neighbors to acquiesce to its preferences, including its land, sea and air claims in the region and its assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan."

Xi blamed the West for China's economic difficulties in a speech on Monday in which he accused the United States of leading an international effort to contain China.

Despite Xi's recent sharp criticism of the United States, Haines said U.S. intelligence still asserts that Beijing believes it benefits from a stable relationship with Washington.