China has borrowed parts of the interference campaign waged against the 2016 U.S. presidential race and has begun deploying Russian-inspired operations abroad, a longtime U.S. diplomat warned Wednesday.
Victoria Nuland, a career ambassador and former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference that Beijing has begun emulating aspects of the multipronged campaign waged by Moscow against the 2016 race and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Other countries and malign actors are now adapting and improving on Russia’s methodology, notably including China which now runs disinformation campaigns and influence operations in Taiwan, Australia and other neighboring countries,” Ms. Nuland said in her opening remarks.
Moscow, meanwhile, has been “turbocharging their efforts to divide the U.S.,” added Ms. Nuland, a former member of the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
“So I think they will accelerate that,” she added.
Michael Daniel, a fellow former Obama administration official who served as White House cybersecurity coordinator from 2012 to 2017, agreed that others are inclined to follow Russia’s lead as well
“Now that the Russians have proven that cyber means can be used to engage in election interference in the U.S., we should expect that they will continue to engage in such activities and that other actors will follow their lead including non-nation state actors,” Mr. Daniel said in his opening remarks.
“Our adversaries are also going to get better at integrating their cyber-capabilities with other aspects of their national power. The Russians are already quite far along with that, but the Chinese and others are not far behind,” Mr. Daniel added during the hearing. “The Russians and other actors, including China, Iran, North Korea, criminal organizations, terrorist organizations, hacktivists, all of them are discovering the cyberspace is a great place to try to advance their agenda. We are seeing a proliferation of capabilities across the globe.”
Russian hackers, propagandists and other operatives interfered in the 2016 race as part of a state-sponsored operation authorized by President Vladimir Putin, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed during the Obama administration.
“Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations — such as cyber activity — with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media users or ‘trolls,’ ” the report said.
Mr. Putin has repeatedly denied interfering in the 2016 race.
Last month, meanwhile, Australian media reported that a study commissioned by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016 determined that the Chinese Communist Party has been attempting to influence and infiltrate Australian policies for a decade.
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