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Beijing’s Military Hacked U.S. Nuclear Firm Before Hunter Biden Aided Chinese Bid to Acquire It

The 2014 indictment shows how Hunter Biden and his partner’s efforts to aid CEFC China Energy in acquiring Westinghouse mirrored China’s goals of civilian nuclear technology independence.
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U.S. officials were acutely aware that Beijing was trying to obtain America's premiere nuclear reactor technology, including through illicit hacking, months before Hunter Biden and his business partners sought to arrange a quiet sale of an iconic U.S. reactor company to a Chinese firm, according to court records and national security experts.

Hunter Biden's unsuccessful efforts to help CEFC China Energy acquire Westinghouse, one of America's most famous electricity and appliance brands, and its state-the-art AP1000 nuclear reactor began in early 2016 while Joe Biden was still a sitting vice president, memos published Wednesday by Just the News show.

Just 20 months earlier, his father's Justice Department charged five members of a Chinese military hacking unit for breaching the company’s computer systems in search of intellectual property and internal strategy communications, according to a copy of the indictment.

In May 2014, the five operatives of the People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398 were charged with hacking into the systems of six U.S.-based companies across different industrial sectors, including Westinghouse Electric Co., SolarWorld, United States Steel Corp., and a union. The attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, called the breach a classic case of "economic espionage."

One operative gained access to Westinghouse’s computers in 2010 and “stole proprietary and confidential technical and design specifications related to pipes, pipe supports, and pipe routing” pertaining to the company’s advanced AP1000 nuclear reactor design, according to an indictment filed by the Department of Justice.

“Among other things, such specifications would enable a competitor to build a plant similar to the AP1000 without incurring significant research and development costs associated with designing similar pipes, pipe supports, and pipe routing systems,” the indictment reads.

National security experts said Thursday they were floored that the son of a sitting vice president would be involved in trying to help a Chinese firm get a leg up on the United States in the race for nuclear energy and that Hunter Biden's involvement with CEFC almost certainly would have been detected by U.S. intelligence and prompted concern.

Documents previously released by Congress in the Biden impeachment inquiry show the Biden family appeared to be acutely aware that CEFC was tied directly to the communist government in China.

While there is no evidence at the moment that Hunter Biden was aware of or involved in the hacking efforts by the Chinese, Hunter Biden wrote in one text message in 2017 that he believed one of the CEFC officials he worked with, Patrick Ho, was the "f---ing spy chief" of China (Ho was later indicted in the U.S. and charged with corruption) while Joe Biden's brother James told the FBI he believed CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming had a relationship with China's communist president.

"It's beyond outrageous that Hunter Biden would be involved in any such deal with Communist China while his father is the sitting vice president," former Trump-era Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "I mean just the glaring conflicts of interest are hard to wrap your brain around. But particularly with Westinghouse."

Coates said the Trump administration worked hard to protect Westinghouse from financial troubles because it was one of America's and the West's "most important private sector partners and assets" left standing after the Obama administration ceded large parts of the global nuclear industry to Russia during a failed reset with Moscow a decade ago. Westinghouse's reactor tech and its maintenance capabilities were deemed key, she said.

Had Hunter Biden and his partners succeeded in helping China grab control of Westinghouse, "all of that would have gone to China," Coates said. "We would have had China in the nuclear plants of our sensitive allies, with their hands all over that technology. And that just is intolerable, but it tells you everything you need to know about the Bidens and their views of American national security."

Fred Fleitz, a former CIA officer and NSC chief of staff, told Just the News that U.S. intelligence almost certainly detected Hunter Biden's dealings with China and most likely would have warned his father.

"I think it's likely he (Joe Biden) got defensive briefings," Fleitz told the "John Solomon Reports" podcast. "And I think he probably received information in the Presidential Daily Brief when he was vice president that had profiles of some of these characters and analyses of things that they were up to. But it didn't seem to stop them."

"It seems that the Biden family was prepared to sell anything wasn't nailed down to advance themselves to make money," he added. "I don't think this was a conspiracy to help the Chinese Communist Party. I think this was pure greed, by the Biden family. I think Joe Biden knew about it."

China's interest in Westinghouse grew as Russia's hold on nuclear energy markets grew.

At the time of the hacks, Westinghouse was exploring ways to expand into the Chinese nuclear market while its profit margins at home suffered. Between 2007 and 2010, Westinghouse signed several agreements with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC) of China to transfer technology and technical know-how to help the Chinese enterprise develop its own reactor.

However, Westinghouse negotiated to limit SNPTC’s ability to export the technology, components and materials, outside of China to prevent competition with its own offerings abroad. Additional negotiations on technology transfer issues between Westinghouse and its Chinese counterpart continued until 2013, according to the DOJ indictment.

The Chinese military hacking efforts paralleled attempts by another Chinese state-owned enterprise to develop an home-made reactor. In April 2016, China General Nuclear Power Corp. was charged by U.S authorities for an effort to obtain nuclear reactor plans to aid its design of a Chinese reactor, the Hualong One. Both attempts represent actions by the Chinese government to pursue nuclear technology independence, a key goal of the Chinese regime.

Remarkably, that same year Hunter Biden and his associates—James Gilliar and Rob Walker—would convey a wide-ranging proposal to CEFC China Energy for the purchase of Westinghouse, which would present an opportunity for the Chinese energy conglomerate to dominate both the Chinese and global nuclear energy market, according to the documents published Wednesday by Just the News.

In a report prepared by Gilliar and sent to CEFC, the team would tout a major benefit of a Westinghouse acquisition: the American company’s intellectual property and the license for the advanced AP1000 reactor—the very same reactor designs the Chinese military hackers pursued about six years earlier.

Gilliar and his team saw an opportunity for CEFC to fill an important role in the Chinese domestic nuclear market and around the world through the acquisition, and in the process, liberate China from its dependence on foreign nuclear technology, Just the News reported Wednesday.

“[If] CEFC owned Westinghouse, it would mean that every export of product in the future from Chinese EPC companies or manufacturers would have to go through CEFC,” Gilliar concluded, according to a cover letter sent to CEFC.

Ultimately, a CEFC plan to acquire Westinghouse was not consummated. Yet, China did ultimately achieve its goals of a civilian nuclear sector less reliant on foreign technologies and expertise and without onerous export restrictions.

By 2020, of the 12 nuclear reactors under construction in China, none were based on American designs—including Westinghouse’s AP1000. Instead, all 12 projects had adopted the Hualong One, the design developed by the China National Nuclear Corporation and the China General Nuclear Power Group—the latter being the same company indicted in the U.S. for industrial espionage.

“More power plants will choose Hualong One in the future because it’s China’s independently developed technology and it’s as good as AP1000,” Wang Yingsu, secretary general of the nuclear power branch of the China Electric Power Promotion Council told the South China Morning Post in 2020.

“AP1000 is Westinghouse’s technology and we might be controlled by them if we want to build the reactors, sell and export to other countries,” he added.

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