(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) Hackers linked to the Chinese Communist Party reportedly broke into the emails of U.S. Chinese Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, prior to a meeting with climate czar John Kerry.
The hacks occurred just before a four-day visit from Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, to discuss climate policies with officials from the Asian superpower and geopolitical rival, according to the Daily Caller.
Initial reports of the hacks did not detail the extent of the damage done, but hackers may have gained access to hundreds of of thousands of U.S. government emails.
Investigators considered the meeting between Xi and Blinken as the possible point of the initial attack, though Blinken and his closest advisors were not said to have been compromised.
The stolen emails reportedly did not contain any highly classified documents.
Cybersecurity professionals in the State Department initially discovered the breach sometime in mid-June, but officials did not specify exactly when. Blinken visited China on June 18 and 19.
Another high-level visit from a Biden Cabinet member, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, followed shortly thereafter, during which Yellen was criticized for repeatedly bowing to Xi and downplaying China’s intention to destabilize and supplant the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency.
Kerry walked away from the climate meetings with nothing to show for it, as China seemed to be staunchly against American intervention and strict green initiatives.
This discovery came on the heels of revelations that the United States power grid faced mounting threats from Chinese hackers according to Manny Cancel, senior vice president of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
“The Chinese activities are … quite alarming,” Cancel testified Tuesday to the House Energy Committee. “Chinese cyber activities are one of the most dynamic cyber threats. China continues to demonstrate increasing sophistication, including new and adaptive techniques to gain access to networks.”
CCP-sanctioned hackers also attacked 13 private companies that owned and operated oil and gas pipelines, stealing data on machine operations and the internal workings of the companies.
Amid all of these revelations, tensions between the two countries continued to rise as both of them built up export restrictions to cut off access to technological products and parts such as semiconductors and key minerals.