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China is working around the globe to undermine American interests and supplant the United States as the world's leading superpower, a top CIA expert warned Friday.

Michael Collins, deputy assistant director at CIA’s East Asia mission center, said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that China's actions to build man-made islands in the South China Sea — to spur territorial growth and allow for annexation of the islands — were akin to "the Crimea of the East," referring to Russia's 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian region.

“I would argue ... that what they’re waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during the Cold War, but a cold war by definition,” Collins said, according to The Associated Press.

The statement from the top CIA official comes days after FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China represents the "broadest" immediate threat to American interests.

“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said of Chinese espionage efforts uncovered by his agency.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE said in an interview this week that his administration was all set to implement additional tariffs targeting Chinese imports into the U.S., telling CNBC that he’s “ready to go” to $500 billion in tariffs, which the administration says is equal to all Chinese goods sold in the U.S.

“I’m not doing this for politics. I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country. We have been ripped off by China for a long time, and I told that to President Xi [Jinping],” Trump said in an interview that aired Friday.

China's government has vowed to respond reciprocally to the latest round of tariffs and has filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization. 

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