China condemns ‘cyber terrorism’ as Obama pledges North Korea review

Agence France-Presse
China condemns ‘cyber terrorism’ as Obama pledges North Korea review
The statement comes after talks between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his US counterpart John Kerry

BEIJING, China – China condemned “cyber terrorism” on Monday, December 22, after United States President Barack Obama pledged to consider officially labelling North Korea, accused by Washington of hacking Sony Pictures, a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Chinese foreign ministry statement came after talks on Sunday, December 21, between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart John Kerry and followed calls by Washington for China and other nations for help in deterring future attacks.

Obama, while saying that the alleged hack was not an act of war, has promised an unspecified “proportionate” response.

South Korea’s nuclear power plant operator, meanwhile, launched a two-day drill to test its ability to thwart a cyber attack, though the exercise did not appear to be directly linked to the US-North Korea row.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry statement on Monday said the country “opposes cyber attacks and cyber terrorism in all of its forms,” without referring directly to China’s ally North Korea.

China “opposes any country or individual using facilities in other countries to launch cyber attacks toward a third country,” it said.

Washington accuses Pyongyang of being behind the hack that led to the release of embarrassing company emails and caused Sony executives to halt the debut of the comedy action film “The Interview”.

The film about a fictional CIA plot to kill the country’s leader infuriated North Korea, although Pyongyang has repeatedly denied it was behind the cyber assault.

Despite calls from Republican critics for a robust response to the alleged hack, Obama told CNN in an interview: “I don’t think it was an act of war. I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously.”

He also promised to “review” whether to return North Korea to the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, but added: “We’ve got very clear criteria as to what it means for a state to sponsor terrorism. And we don’t make those judgments just based on the news of the day.”

‘Significant overlap’

The hermit state threatened to hit back at the White House and other US targets if it was sanctioned over the alleged hacking.

The North’s National Defense Commission, in a statement on the official news agency, said its army and people “are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the US in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels.”

According to the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), there is “significant overlap” between the Sony Pictures attack and other “malicious cyber-activity” with direct links to Pyongyang, including an attack last year on South Korean banks blamed on the North.

The South’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) on Monday began conducting drills at its four nuclear plant complexes after a series of online information leaks by a suspected hacker.

The hacker, using an account entitled “president of the anti-nuclear reactor group”, published a variety of information on Twitter, including designs and manuals for two reactors as well as personal information on some 10,000 KHNP employees.

There did not appear to be any link between the drill and the Sony Pictures hack, and North Korea says it has never attempted or made a cyber attack on South Korea. –

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