A four-month investigative report by Newsweek found that roughly 600 groups are engaging in a widespread meddling campaign tied to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and seeking to influence the U.S. well beyond next Tuesday’s election.
“The scope of alleged activities is enormous, involving social and business gatherings, extensive information campaigns and building political and economic ties that can be leveraged to Beijing’s gain — recent reports of Hunter Biden’s business dealings with a Chinese energy company eager to connect with his father and President Trump’s Chinese bank account are just the latest high-profile examples that some China watchers find worrisome,” Newsweek’s Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote.
“There are also accusations of large-scale economic espionage.”
Election meddling is small potatoes, measured against Beijing’s longer-term goals in this effort: “The CPC is not out to destroy the U.S., experts say, but rather to change or subvert it from within,” according to the report.
The meddling seeks “to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interest, and deflect and counter criticism,” said National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina, per Newsweek.
Facebook and Twitter are the leading mediums used to spread the CPC messaging in the U.S., according top analysis from the International Cyber Policy Center of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The accounts, often involving bots or fake IDs, on those social media giants are engaging in “cross-platform inauthentic activity, conducted by Chinese-speaking actors and broadly in alignment with the political goal of the People’s Republic of China to denigrate the standing of the U.S.,” the institute’s report concluded.
This summer, FBI Director Christopher Wray noted that a China-connected investigation is opened every 10 hours and more than half of the 5,000 active counterintelligence cases in the U.S. are related to China.
“Justice, State, the FBI – they’re peeling back the layers that have been hiding some of these organizations and activities,” National Counterintelligence and Security Center communications chief Dean Boyd told Newsweek.
“The influencing has been going on nonstop, and it’s not happening in a vacuum. There is an election coming up.”