China treads carefully with US call over Sony hacking

December 22, 2014
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, chats with a delegate as they attend a welcome ceremony for visiting Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. China told the U.S. that it is against cyberattacks and opposes any nation or individual launching such attacks from a third country, but did not directly condemn the Sony hackings that Washington has blamed on North Korea, China's foreign ministry said Monday. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, chats with a delegate as they attend a welcome ceremony for visiting Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. China told the U.S. that it is against cyberattacks and opposes any nation or individual launching such attacks from a third country, but did not directly condemn the Sony hackings that Washington has blamed on North Korea, China’s foreign ministry said Monday. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING, Dec. 22 (Yonhap) — China made a noncommittal response Monday to U.S. calls to help counter cyberthreats from North Korea accused of hacking Sony’s Hollywood studio, apparently in consideration of its ties with Pyongyang.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held a telephone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday, during which they discussed the issue of North Korea’s alleged cyberattack on Sony last month, but a statement released by the Chinese ministry on Monday stopped short of directly mentioning North Korea.

Also on Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington is considering re-listing North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism for the alleged cyberattack apparently carried out in response to a movie made by Sony Pictures about a plot to assassinate the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

“China opposes all forms of cyberattacks and any country or individual using other countries’ facilities to wage cyberattacks against third-party countries,” the Chinese ministry’s statement said of the telephone talks between Kerry and Wang.

Sony Pictures canceled the Christmas Day release of the film “The Interview” after hackers threatened attacks against cinema chains screening the movie.

During a regular press briefing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was asked about whether Beijing believes that Pyongyang used facilities in China to launch the cyberattack on Sony.

Hua replied, “Just now you mentioned that the U.S. believes that the hackers had used facilities in China to launch the attack.”

“But, I believe that, before making any conclusions, we have to have enough facts,” Hua said, “China will deal with the relevant issue in accordance with facts, international law as well as China’s domestic regulations.”

North Korea has denied it was behind the hacking, though it lauded it as a “righteous deed.” On Sunday, the North’s powerful National Defense Commission (NDC) stepped up its rhetoric against the U.S.

“The army and people of the DPRK (North Korea) are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyberwarfare space to blow up those citadels,” the North’s NDC said in a statement.

“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the ‘symmetric counteraction’ declared by Obama,” it said.

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