In a conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said late Sunday that China is against all forms of cyberattacks and cyberterrorism. A report by the Chinese state-run Xinhua news service says Wang made the remarks after Kerry briefed him on his views on the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack attack. The report includes no direct mention of North Korea, but says Wang affirmed, “China is opposed to any country or any individual to launch cyberattacks via facilities in another country on a third country.”
China is the North’s most significant ally and, as reported Saturday, the Obama administration has reached out to the Middle Kingdom, asking for its help in squashing any North Korea cyberattacks. According to Reuters, in the conversation with Kerry, Wang made no reference to the U.S.’ calls for action against North Korea. Help from China would be crucial given that most of the DPRK’s telecom lines run through Chinese-operated networks. Sony’s cyberattack has been routed through China, then transmitted through servers in Singapore, Thailand and Bolivia. Getting China aboard to support the U.S. might be a challenge: In May, the Justice Department indicted five Chinese Military hackers on stealing intel from U.S. companies.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily press briefing on Monday, “Before making any conclusions there has to be a full (accounting of) the facts and foundation. China will handle it in accordance with relevant international and Chinese laws according to the facts.”
The U.S. is still mulling options for how to respond to the Sony Pictures attack which the FBI has concluded is the handiwork of the DPRK government. North Korea in turn has denied its involvement and over the weekend suggested a joint probe to find the culprit. But it has also threatened action against the U.S. should it follow through with President Obama’s statement Friday that the States will “respond proportionally” to the cyberattack.
Japan, where Sony Pictures’ parent Sony Corp is headquartered, said it strongly condemned the attack, but also stopped short of blaming North Korea. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference, “Japan is maintaining close contact with the United States and supporting their handling of this case,” Reuters reported. As noted last week, Suga said he did not believe the attack would have an effect on talks between Japan and North Korea over a 40-year-old dispute involving the abduction of Japanese citizens by agents of the Pyongyang regime.