Friday, September 29, 2023
HomeChina NewsBlinken Calls for Engagement With China After State Department Hack

Blinken Calls for Engagement With China After State Department Hack

The United States’ top diplomat is calling for increased diplomatic engagement with China’s communist regime following a massive hack of State Department emails by China-linked cybercriminals.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration would redouble its efforts to engage diplomatically with communist China following the hack of hundreds of thousands of U.S. government emails by China-linked cybercriminals.

To that end, Mr. Blinken said, more visits of U.S. officials to China and vice versa will be announced over the coming months.

“I anticipate other cabinet members will be going [to China], and Chinese cabinet members will be coming to the United States,” Mr. Blinken said during a discussion at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on July 21. “I think these contacts, these communications are essential and, in fact, it would be irresponsible not to pursue them.

“I have no illusions about where that goes,” Mr. Blinken added. “This is, in many ways, the challenge of our time.”

Multiple Departments Hit by China-Linked Hackers

Mr. Blinken’s call for more engagement with China follows the interception of hundreds of thousands of unclassified U.S. government emails by China-linked hackers.

Cybersecurity firms believe many of the associated hacking groups are backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state. CCP authorities deny any form of state-sponsored hacking, however, and claim China itself is a frequent target of cyberattacks.

According to Microsoft, the hacks occurred when a China-linked actor, which the company nicknamed Storm-0558, misappropriated one of its digital keys and used a flaw in its code to steal unclassified government emails.

Officials from both Microsoft and the Biden administration said the hackers illicitly accessed the email accounts of around 25 organizations, including multiple government agencies. The cyber intrusions were in play for at least a month before being discovered in mid-June, around the time of Mr. Blinken’s visit to Beijing.

Among the unclassified email accounts seized by the hackers were those of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and, according to a Wall Street Journal report published this week, U.S. envoy to China Nicholas Burns, and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink.

The State Department has remained tight-lipped about the nature and extent of the hack, declining to say what emails were affected. An investigation is ongoing, according to a State Department spokesperson.

“For security reasons, we will not be sharing additional information on the nature and scope of this cybersecurity incident at this time,” the spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

“The Department continuously monitors and responds to [the] activity of concern on our networks. Our investigation is ongoing, and we cannot provide further details at this time.”

Similarly, when asked about the incident during a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Mr. Kritenbrink said that he could not comment on the investigation but would “not rule out” that his emails were among those seized.

Mr. Blinken clarified on Friday that only the unclassified email systems of the department were affected in the breach but likewise refused to comment further.

“I can say that the incident in question affected only our unclassified system,” Mr. Blinken said.

“We now have an investigation ongoing which will determine the impact.”

Mr. Blinken added that he had previously spoken “directly” to Chinese officials about alleged cyber actions targeting the United States and that Washington would take appropriate actions if targeted by the CCP.

“Of course, it’s a constant concern,” Mr. Blinken said. “There is an ongoing effort every single day to make sure that all of our systems are as strong and protected as they can be.”

Biden Administration Pushes for More China Engagement

Cyber attacks linked to the CCP have plagued numerous nations worldwide for some time but have been increasing in frequency and severity in recent years.

The State Department warned in May that China was capable of launching cyber attacks against critical infrastructure—including oil and gas pipelines and rail systems—after researchers discovered a Chinese hacking group had been spying on such networks.

A multi-nation alert, issued at that time, revealed a Chinese cyber espionage campaign aimed primarily at military and government targets in the United States.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration is pushing forward with its policy of engagement with the CCP “without preconditions.”

Ms. Raimondo said on Friday she still plans to visit China later this year despite the reported hack of her and her department’s emails.

Likewise, Mr. Blinken justified the administration’s push to engage with the CCP through several recent high-profile visits as a vital step in ensuring peace and stability between the two nations.

“It was important to us to put some stability back into this relationship, to put a floor under it,” Mr. Blinken said, “to make sure that the competition that we’re clearly in doesn’t veer into conflict, which would not be in our interest and would not be in anyone’s interests.”

“That starts with engagement. It starts with talking. It starts with having a conversation to make sure that at the very least you’re understanding each other, you’re clear about intent, and that misunderstandings and misperceptions [don’t] veer into something that no one wants.”

Several senior Biden administration officials have visited Beijing in the last two months, including Mr. Blinken, climate envoy John Kerry, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. None of those visits resulted in any agreements being reached between the United States and China.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Source link

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments