China, more than any other country, poses the biggest potential security threat to the U.S., according to one former national security advisor. General James L. Jones, who served under President Barack Obama from January 2009 to October 2010, discussed China's geopolitical role in an interview Sunday with CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

“China has been very clear about what its long-term goals are strategically,” Jones said. “We need to take that very seriously.”

Speaking at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dabi, Jones explained that China has as one of its major goals the complete control of its populace using social control systems and surveillance technology.

“They’re making astonishing progress to control every single citizen, whatever he or she does,” Jones explained. “They’re giving grades for citizenship, which will affect their jobs you’re going to hold, the travel you can do and everything else. Where they’re moving is scary,” he said. “They obviously want to export that to other countries.”

Jones was referring to China’s social credit system, which awards its citizens for actions and behaviors the government deems appropriate or desirable. China has also made vast strides in surveillance technology, blanketing its cities in advanced cameras that can pick individuals out of crowds of hundreds.

“They penetrate the economies, they buy up everything they can, pay off everybody they can,” Jones also said, referring to the country’s aim to ingratiate itself into major foreign economies. “Get a chokehold on the economy as much as they can and then make demands for the behavior of the government.”

In the tech sphere, Jones said that he believes the U.S. can and should compete with China, and predicted that the U.S. could win the competition if they did. Jones said that the race to 5G networks will be a particularly important battleground, as such infrastructure could have a major impact on GDP.

Jones further urged world governments to put moral values over the value of trade when it comes to dealing with China. He made the comparison to the Cold War, when the U.S. did not trade with the Soviet Union until the Berlin Wall came down.

When asked if the U.S. should support the protestors in Hong Kong over the Chinese government, Jones responded: “Is trade more important than human values?”