Tuesday, October 26News That Matters

Tag: Embargoes and Sanctions

Russia Challenges Biden Again With Broad Cybersurveillance Operation

Technology
SEA ISLAND, Ga. — Russia’s premier intelligence agency has launched another campaign to pierce thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks, Microsoft officials and cybersecurity experts warned on Sunday, only months after President Biden imposed sanctions on Moscow in response to a series of sophisticated spy operations it had conducted around the world.The new effort is “very large, and it is ongoing,” Tom Burt, one of Microsoft’s top security officers, said in an interview. Government officials confirmed that the operation, apparently aimed at acquiring data stored in the cloud, seemed to come out of the S.V.R., the Russian intelligence agency that was the first to enter the Democratic National Committee’s networks during the 2016 election.While Microsoft ins...
Treasury Warns That Digital Currencies Could Weaken U.S. Sanctions

Treasury Warns That Digital Currencies Could Weaken U.S. Sanctions

Technology
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration warned on Monday that digital currencies posed a threat to America’s sanctions program and said in a new report that the United States needed to modernize how sanctions were deployed so that they remained an effective national security tool.The warning was included in a six-month Treasury Department review of the nation’s sanctions program, which has been used more aggressively in recent years as a lever in international diplomacy. The focus on digital currencies coincides with an administration-wide effort to determine how to regulate new financial technology without stifling innovation.“Technological innovations such as digital currencies, alternative payment platforms and new ways of hiding cross-border transactions all potentially reduce the effica...

U.S. Reaches Agreement to Release Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

Technology
For its part, the Chinese government has underwritten the cost of installing Huawei gear, in an effort to dominate networks from Latin America to the Middle East.Ms. Meng came to personify that effort. Her determination to wire up Tehran, at a time in which the West was seeking to contain Iran’s nuclear program, attracted protests among American officials. For that reason, some China hard-liners objected on Friday to news that the charges were being dropped.“It sends the wrong message to Chinese business executives around the world that it’s permissible to engage in fraudulent transactions with Iran and North Korea,” said Michael Pillsbury, a scholar at the Hudson Institute who was a top China adviser to former President Donald J. Trump. “I fear that another part of the message has been th...
Afghanistan Faces Economic Shock as Sanctions Replace Foreign Aid

Afghanistan Faces Economic Shock as Sanctions Replace Foreign Aid

Business
WASHINGTON — As the Taliban attempt the precarious shift from insurgent movement to functioning government, Afghanistan is facing the heightened risk of a financial collapse after being propped up for the past two decades by foreign aid that now accounts for nearly half its legal economy.The fate of the Afghan economy will be determined by decisions that the Biden administration and other countries must make on whether to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government. In the meantime, the United States and the international community are already shutting the flow of money, leaving Afghanistan in the stranglehold of sanctions that were designed to cut the Taliban off from the global financial system. Analysts say the looming shock threatens to amplify a humanitarian crisis in a country t...
US to Accuse China of Microsoft Hacking

US to Accuse China of Microsoft Hacking

Technology
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Monday is expected to formally accuse the Chinese government of breaching Microsoft email systems used by many of the world’s largest companies, governments and military contractors, according to a senior administration official. The United States is also set to organize a broad group of allies, including all NATO members, to condemn Beijing for cyberattacks around the world.The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that the United States was expected to accuse China for the first time of paying criminal groups to conduct large-scale hackings, including ransomware attacks to extort companies for millions of dollars. Microsoft had pointed to hackers linked to the Chinese Ministry of State Security for exploiting holes in the compan...
Biden Expands Trump-Era Ban on Investment in Chinese Firms Linked to Military

Biden Expands Trump-Era Ban on Investment in Chinese Firms Linked to Military

Technology
The new executive order is another case in which the Biden administration is building on a Trump-era China initiative. Mr. Biden has also kept tariffs on Chinese goods in place, as leverage in negotiations. In this case, Biden administration officials say they were acting partly to fix the executive order issued by President Donald J. Trump last November, which has been challenged, successfully, in American courts because it did not clearly lay out the factual basis for banning investments in Chinese firms linked to the defense industry.The list of Chinese firms affected by the new order was put together by the Treasury Department, which has deep experience in issuing sanctions, rather than by the Pentagon. That is partly an effort to make clear the reasons for each company’s designations,...
Venezuela Releases 6 U.S. Oil Executives to House Arrest

Venezuela Releases 6 U.S. Oil Executives to House Arrest

Business
HOUSTON — The Venezuelan government released a group of American refinery executives from prison to house arrest in Caracas on Friday, in a possible sign that President Nicolás Maduro would like to improve relations with the Biden administration.The six executives of Houston-based Citgo Petroleum, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company, have been held on corruption charges since 2017, after they were ordered to attend a budget meeting in Venezuela. When they arrived, they were arrested.The group — known as the “Citgo 6” — was previously allowed to return to private homes from prison only to be sent back to prison.Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, who has been attempting to negotiate the release of the six — five of whom are naturalized American citizens and the ...
How China’s Outrage Machine Kicked Up a Storm Over H&M

How China’s Outrage Machine Kicked Up a Storm Over H&M

Technology
When the Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M said in September that it was ending its relationship with a Chinese supplier accused of using forced labor, a few Chinese social media accounts dedicated to the textile industry took note. But by and large, the moment passed without fanfare.Half a year later, Beijing’s online outrage machine sprang into action. This time, its wrath was unsparing.The Communist Party’s youth wing denounced H&M on social media and posted an archival photo of slaves on a Mississippi cotton plantation. Official news outlets piled on with their own indignant memes and hashtags. Patriotic web users carried the message across far and varied corners of the Chinese internet.Within hours, a tsunami of nationalist fury was crashing down upon H&M, Nike, Uniqlo and ot...
H&M Faces a Boycott in China Over Statement on Uyghurs

H&M Faces a Boycott in China Over Statement on Uyghurs

Business
The fashion retailer H&M is facing a potential boycott in China after a statement the company made last year expressing deep concerns over reports of forced labor in Xinjiang stirred a social media storm this week.A similar statement from Nike was also attracting criticism on Wednesday, a sign that Western clothing manufacturers could face growing hostility in China for their public stances against forced labor in Xinjiang and for halting cotton sourcing from the region.The H&M statement, which can be found on the website of the Swedish retailer, was posted in September after growing global scrutiny around the use of Uyghurs in forced labor in Xinjiang.In it, H&M said that it was “deeply concerned by reports from civil society organizations and media that include accusations of...