China is already targeting Joe Biden and his team, a top US intelligence official warned, calling it an attack 'on steroids'

China is already targeting Joe Biden and his team, a top US intelligence official warned, calling it an attack 'on steroids'
Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Bill Evanina in Washington, DC, in 2018.Reuters
  • China has started targeting President-elect Joe Biden and his team, a top US intelligence official warned at an Aspen Institute summit Wednesday.
  • Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said his agency had expected the Chinese to "revector their influence campaigns to the new administration."
  • Evanina did not give any specifics but said the influence campaign was "on steroids."

China has already started targeting President-elect Joe Biden and his team, a top US intelligence official warned Wednesday.

Speaking on a panel at the Aspen Institute's virtual Cyber Summit, Bill Evanina, director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said his agency had expected the attack, and that China is conducting its operation "on steroids."

"We've also seen an uptick, which was planned and we predicted, that China would now revector their influence campaigns to the new administration," he said.
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"And when I say that — that malign foreign influence, that diplomatic influence plus-or-on steroids — we're starting to see that play across the country to not only the folks starting in the new administration, but those who are around those folks," he told the panel moderator, Wall Street Journal reporter Aruna Viswanatha.

Evanina did not give any specifics, but said his team would work with the Biden camp to help them identify attacks.

China is already targeting Joe Biden and his team, a top US intelligence official warned, calling it an attack 'on steroids'
Clockwise from top left: Evanina, Wall Street Journal reporter Aruna Viswanatha, and DOJ national-security official John Demers at the Aspen Cyber Summit on December 2, 2020.YouTube/Aspen Institute
"So that's one area we're going to be very keen on making sure the new administration understands that influence, what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like when you see it," he said.
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A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to comment.

Read more: Biden wants to move beyond the Trump era. But the Justice Department and New York state might not be so ready to play along. You can watch the full panel with Evanina and John Demers, the top national security official at the Department of Justice, here:
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During the panel, Demers said that a recent US crackdown on technology theft by Chinese nationals accused of being state agents had resulted in more then 1,000 Chinese researchers leaving the US.

Under Demers, the DOJ is prosecuting a number of people accused of of espionage at the behest of the Chinese government.

One of those, former CIA agent Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, was charged in August with selling secrets to China, including details of how CIA staff communicate, US weapons systems, and CIA staff identities.
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Evanina said Wednesday that a large number of Chinese researchers in the US are "here at the behest of the Chinese government."

Demers added that China is the only nation to have "the resources and ability and will" to trouble the US.

During the panel, Evanina said that the US intelligence sector had succeeded in minimizing foreign influence in the 2020election, a sharp contrast to 2016.
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Ahead of the 2020 election, Evanina said in a statement on August 7 that China was working to influence the November 3 election, and did not want President Donald Trump to win.

"We assess that China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection," he said.

"China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China's interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China."
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After a notable silence, Chinese President Xi Jinping finally congratulated Biden for winning the election on November 25.

"Promoting the healthy and stable development of China-US relations is not only in the fundamental interests of both peoples, but also meets the common expectation of the international community," Xi said. Biden's team has already hinted that it will be tough on China when the president-elect is in office. On Wednesday, Jake Sullivan — Biden's pick for national security advisor — sent what appeared to be a message of support to Australia amid its ongoing feud with China.
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