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China Meddled More Aggressively in 2022 Elections Because it Didn’t Fear Biden Admin Retaliation, Intel Report Finds

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Doug Mills/The New York Times

By: Jason Cohen, Daily Caller News Foundation

China meddled more in the 2022 midterm elections than in the 2020 elections because it did not think the Biden administration would respond harshly, according to a report published by the intelligence community on Monday.

Top leaders in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have orchestrated increased interference in United States policy and public discourse to advance China’s interests since 2020, according to the report. PRC actors who engaged in this 2022 election influence operation were emboldened by the Biden administration’s perceived weakness in comparison to former President Donald Trump’s more stern stance toward China in 2020.

“PRC influence actors [had] more freedom to operate ahead of the midterms than the presidential election in 2020, probably because PRC officials believed that Beijing was under less scrutiny during the midterms and because they did not expect the current Administration to retaliate as severely as they feared in 2020,” the report states.

The PRC deployed its efforts against Congress because of its perceived anti-China sentiment and actions posing a threat to national interests, according to the report. It did not target a specific political party, instead helping candidates they perceived as friendly to China and working against those who were anti-China. “China tacitly approved efforts to try to influence a handful of midterm races involving members of both US political parties,” according to the report. However the report does not mention which specific candidates the operation targeted.

The PRC specifically used abortion and gun control as wedge issues to sew discord and damage America’s political discourse, according to the report.

The report, which also assesses similar operations undertaken in 2022 by Russia and other adversaries, says that several foreign actors worked to manipulate the 2022 elections by paying influencers and hiring public relations firms, among other acts.

China-aligned cyber influence operations included pretending to be American voters with differing political views, according to a report Microsoft published in September. The level of direct interaction in these election influence operations has increased since 2022, and China has deployed them to “create controversy,” according to a Microsoft blog post about the report.

Facebook’s parent company Meta shut down thousands of fake China-based accounts that were designed to influence American voters ahead of the 2024 elections, according to its third quarter “Adversarial Threat Report” published in late November. Meta eliminated nearly 5,000 Facebook profiles in China that posed as Americans and posted content related to U.S. politics and China relations.

The director of National Intelligence and the White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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