Biden: No Sanctions on China Because It's Only Protecting Hackers Who Attack America

There's a reason Biden doesn't like answering questions. He's bad at it. 

Biden was always bad at it, but the situation has only grown worse over time. And sometimes he's so bad at coping with the spin that he tells something that suspiciously resembles the truth.

Take Biden's response to a question about why China isn't being sanctioned despite being blamed for the Microsoft hack.

Q    Mr. President, on China and cyber hacking... effectively, your administration is naming and shaming China, but no sanctions.  Why?  And is that effective enough?

BIDEN:  They’re still determining exactly what happened.  The investigation is not finished. 

Thank you all very much.

Q    On China real quick — on China real quick: What is your understanding of the biggest difference between what they’ve done versus what Russia has done in terms of cyber hacking?

BIDEN:  That’d take a longer explanation.

Q    We have all the time in the world.  What is it?

BIDEN: No, we don’t.  I have to go see the King of Jordan. 

Look, to the best of my knowledge — and I’m getting a report tomorrow morning on this, a detailed report — my understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves, but are protecting those who are doing it and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it.  That may be the difference. 

Biden offers two answers. One is the reflexive pablum about an unfinished investigation. The second is that the Chinese are harboring the hackers, but they're not technically state hackers.

Since China is a totalitarian state with tight government oversight, the distinction between harboring hackers and state hacking is nebulous. If the hacking groups didn't serve the interests of the state, but undermined it, they'd all be doing involuntary organ donations. So the PRC sees them as serving the interests of the state. It's the equivalent of states harboring terrorist groups while claiming plausible deniability.

For that matter, Biden's own administration is indeed accusing the Chinese government.

The U.S. government has high confidence that hackers tied to the Ministry of State Security, or MSS, carried out the unusually indiscriminate hack of Microsoft Exchange Server software that emerged in March, senior officials said.

In addition, four Chinese nationals were indicted over a range of separate hacking intrusions dating back a decade that allegedly stole corporate and research secrets from firms and universities around the world. Three of the nationals were described as MSS officers, while a fourth was said to be employed at a Chinese front company that aided the hacking.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the MSS had “fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain.”

Maybe when Biden gets that detailed report, he can have someone explain it to him in a few short words.

But more aptly, Biden has little appetite for confrontation with China, which not only owns his son, but much of his donor base. Despite appearances, he has little appetite for confrontation with Russia. His only appetite seems to be for a domestic crackdown on political opponents.

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