After being approached by the United States to help it deal with hackers in the wake of a massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment last month, China condemned all forms of hacking activities, but avoided criticizing Pyongyang, or responding to the U.S. call to act against North Korea. The U.S. has accused the North of backing the group of hackers, known as Guardians of Peace (GOP).
The Chinese government said in a statement on Sunday that the country’s foreign minister Wang Yi had a conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during which he “reaffirmed China’s relevant position, emphasizing China opposes all forms of cyberattacks and cyber terrorism,” Reuters reported. The U.S. and China too have exchanged accusations of cybercrime against each other over the months, and a U.S. official has blamed China for allowing North Korean hackers to use Chinese servers to launch the attack on Sony Pictures.
Wang did not directly mention North Korea, which was blamed by the U.S. for the cyberattack against Sony Pictures, and instead made a general statement that China “opposes any country or individual using other countries' domestic facilities to conduct cyberattacks on third-party nations.”
According to the report, China’s diplomatic maneuver over the hack is not surprising given the country's historic friendship with North Korea, which it considers an ally. The Chinese government’s move over the Sony hack came after The Global Times, a tabloid run by the Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily, largely sided with North Korea and criticized “The Interview,” a controversial comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which is said to have prompted the hack.
“Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like ‘The Interview,’ which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society,” an editorial in the newspaper said. “No matter how the U.S. society looks at North Korea and Kim Jong-un, Kim is still the leader of the country. The vicious mocking of Kim is only a result of senseless cultural arrogance.”
The North Korean government has denied the U.S. allegations and has threatened to “blow up” the White House, the Pentagon and other U.S. targets in retaliation.
“We do not know who or where they (the hackers) are but we can surely say that they are supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK,” a commentary by the North Korean government on KCNA, the country’s state news agency, said. DPRK, which stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is the official name for North Korea.
“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,” the government said.
Meanwhile, a report from the Associated Press said Monday that North Korea, angry over the U.S. accusation of hacking, has refused to participate in a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday, where the country’s miserable human rights situation is expected to be discussed.