China has reportedly hacked the emails of high-level U.S. State Department officials in advance of a climate meeting in Beijing led by John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, hackers linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) breached the email accounts of Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink. The hacks reportedly occurred prior to Kerry’s visit to Beijing to discuss green policy with CCP officials.
While the full extent of the hacks is not yet known, it is believed that the hackers may have accessed a significant number of U.S. government emails. However, the email accounts of Burns and Kritenbrink are not believed to have contained highly-classified information.
The compromised messages may have provided CCP-linked hackers with insight into general U.S. strategies ahead of diplomatic talks between the Biden administration and CCP representatives. The number of compromised emails is still under investigation, and the figure may increase as the probe progresses.
The hacks were disclosed by The Wall Street Journal last week. It is important to note that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his closest advisers’ email accounts were reportedly not compromised.
During his visit to China, Kerry attempted to reach a deal on climate policy, but the efforts were seemingly unproductive. Despite the hacking incident, Kerry emphasized that the Biden administration remains committed to finding common ground with the CCP on climate change-related issues and initiatives.
The U.S. State Department acknowledged the incident but declined to share further details for security reasons. They assured the public that they continuously monitor and respond to concerning activity on their networks.
This disclosure of compromised emails follows a previous revelation in July that CCP-linked hackers gained access to the email account of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Tensions between the United States and China have escalated in recent months, leading to both countries imposing export restrictions on key technological products and parts.
Meanwhile, Republicans expressed their annoyance with Kerry regarding his trip to Beinjing. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) criticized President Joe Biden’s climate czar John Kerry for his trip to China to revive climate “cooperation” amid a controversy over his private jet use.
“Once again, Joe Biden’s climate czar jets off across the world burning the same fossil fuels he rages against, wasting taxpayer dollars, and undermining U.S. strength on the world stage,” Ernst told Fox News. “While his head is stuck in the clouds, John Kerry needs a reminder that fossil fuels are not the enemy, China is.
“The CCP is seeking to undermine the U.S. at every turn, but the Biden administration continues to bow to Beijing, the world’s largest polluter, and give lip service to the greenies,” she said.
Ernst has also proposed the Lead by Example Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) to maintain their thermostats at a minimum of 78 degrees Fahrenheit while using air conditioning in order to comply with their own recommendations.
On Thursday, the Biden administration introduced a new proposal for oil and gas leasing rules that would jack up prices at nearly every stage of production, which is expected to lead to higher energy costs for consumers.