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The officials claim that the hackers also gained access to the email account of Daniel Kritenbrink, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, who recently visited China alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Prior to State Secretary Antony Blinken’s June travel to Beijing, Chinese hackers also gained access to the email accounts of officials from the State Department and the Department of Commerce, according to a New York Times article quoting US sources.

Microsoft previously disclosed that Chinese hackers had gotten access to official email accounts with the aim of gathering intelligence on the US.

According to a person who was briefed on the breach into government networks, the attack was targeted, with the hackers going after individual accounts rather of conducting a general infiltration that would suck up vast amounts of data, as reported by the New York Times.

It is important to note that the infiltration was found by the State Department on June 16 and that day, just before Blinken’s travel to Beijing, Microsoft was notified. That evening, he left Washington.

Following Blinken, Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, went to Beijing as well. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to try to normalise relations during a meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in November. However, tensions between the two countries increased after the Pentagon found and shot down a Chinese spy balloon that was flying over the United States’ mainland in early February.

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