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To China, With Love: Biden Soft on Beijing, Flexes Muscle with Moscow.

The Double-Standard of the Chinese and Russian Cyberattacks

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Key Points

Two cyberattacks. Two very different responses from the Biden White House.

Last year, Texas-based software company SolarWinds was making a routine update to a program called Orion when they were attacked by cyber criminals directed by Russian intelligence. 18,000 Americans downloaded the malicious update. 100 companies and a dozen government agencies were affected – including Microsoft, Intel, the Treasury Department and the Pentagon.

It was one of the largest cyberattacks in U.S. history. A ‘worst nightmare’ scenario.

The Biden Administration’s response? Sanctions – strict and swift. Ten Russian diplomats were sent packing. The sanctions made it difficult for Russia to access capital and prevented U.S. banks from purchasing Russian bonds (a financial cost that hopefully deters future attacks).

Russia’s foreign ministry called the sanctions “hostile steps which dangerously raise the temperature of confrontation”.

A serious response to a serious threat. So why has the response to China’s cyberattack been so…soft?

Last March, Chinese hackers carried out a massive and sophisticated cyberattack on Microsoft Exchange email servers. The breach provided a trove of data valuable for corporate espionage—a well-known strategy of the Chinese regime.

“The White House is publicly blaming China for [the] attack on Microsoft’s email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers worldwide… the U.S. [is] joined by the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and NATO in condemning Beijing’s Ministry of State Security for the malicious cyberattacks,” NPR reports.

NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg sent the following tweet: “#NATO stands in solidarity with all those affected by malicious cyber activities, including the Microsoft Exchange Server compromise. We call on all states, including China, to uphold their international obligations & act responsibly.”

Publicly blaming? A tweet? A far cry from sanctions and expulsions; barely a slap on the wrist.

Earlier this month, Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer asked, “what is China buying in the Biden Administration?” Schweizer questioned whether the Biden Administration was soft on the Chinese Communist Party due to its coziness with top administration officials or perhaps it might have something to do with his son Hunter Biden’s continued financial interest in Chinese state-connected firms. In either case, Biden’s treatment of Russian-backed cyberattacks and Chinese-backed cyberattacks amounts to a double standard.

In light of this disparity in the administration’s responses, the public again asks: “What is China buying in the Biden Administration?” It may be impossible to know for sure, but with U.S. national security at risk, the American public deserves answers.

Research provided by Steven Richards, research analyst for GAI.