For multinational companies, the ever-increasing tension between Beijing and its trading partners complicates the challenge of doing business in China. Just last month, the National Security Agency got wind of a massive cyber hack underway into Microsoft
's Exchange email server. Within hours the NSA
had determined where the assault had originated: the People's Republic of China. The PRC had over the years repeatedly forsworn any intention to hack into U.S. corporate computer systems and steal intellectual property. President Xi Jinping
, in fact, had given Barack Obama
his word, in September 2015, that China would not engage in commercial cyber espionage.
That was a lie, and now the Biden White House was fed up. While refraining, for the moment, to impose new sanctions against Beijing, it immediately contacted key allies, led by Japan, and asked them to join Washington in issuing a formal joint complaint to Beijing, which they did in late July.
This marked a difference from the aggressively unilateral approach on trade that the Trump administration took, and was the first significant demonstration that the Biden administration meant it when it said it would work closely with allies to respond to China's economic predations.