A top U.S. official told a think tank last week that U.S. intelligence has seen a sharp uptick by the Chinese Communist Party to influence Democrat Joe Biden’s team and those around them.
National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) Director William Evanina told the Aspen Institute think tank that China has launched an influence campaign “on steroids” targeting Biden.
“I think the last few months, parallel to the elections, we’ve been dealing really heavy on the COVID-19 front and China’s efforts to thwart that, not only in the vaccine but also in the promulgation of a supply chain and the movement of a vaccine all the way to inoculation,” Evanina said.
“But we’ve also seen an uptick, which was planned and we predicted, that China would now revector their influence campaigns to the new administration. And when I say that, you know that malign foreign influence, that diplomatic influence plus or on steroids, we’re starting to see that now play across the country to not only the folks that are in the new administration, but those who are around those folks in the new administration. 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.”
The revelation is troubling given the fact that China is widely considered to be the greatest threat to the U.S. by military and intelligence officials and Biden repeatedly refused to call China an opponent while on the campaign trail.
In August, Evanina released a statement highlighting the three greatest threats to the 2020 elections, which included China, who, according to U.S. intelligence, did not want President Donald Trump to win re-election.
The statement said regarding China:
We assess that China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection. 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. Although China will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action, its public rhetoric over the past few months has grown increasingly critical of the current Administration’s COVID-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate, and actions on other issues. For example, it has harshly criticized the Administration’s statements and actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market. Beijing recognizes that all of these efforts might affect the presidential race.
A week later, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien warned that China was “trying to elect Biden” and that China had the “the most sophisticated global influence programs and strategies and abilities and capabilities in the world.”