Responding to questions from ABC News’ White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest avoided naming specifics when discussing the difference between Chinese and Russian cyberattacks.
Karl asked Earnest why President Obama’s response to alleged Russian hacking was much more severe than his response to Chinese hacking of government employees, describing the Chinese attack as “more widespread.”
“These are two cyber incidents that are malicious in nature but materially different,” Earnest responded.
Karl listed off various bits of personal data that the Chinese stole in their attack: “fingerprints, social security numbers, background checks.” Karl then pointed out, “There was not a single step announced by the White House in response to that.”
“That is true that there was no public announcement about our response,” Earnest acknowledged, but he declined to elaborate further about any actions toward the Chinese.
Earnest offered that President Obama had discussed the cyberattack with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the only public response to China’s actions.
“We have made some progress with [the Chinese] in trying to limit the kind of malicious cyber activity that could threaten U.S. interests,” Earnest concluded.
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