China Condemns Cyber Attacks, but Not North Korea

Directors and writers Seth Rogen (R) and Evan Goldberg pose for a portrait while promoting their upcoming movie 'This Is the End' at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, June 3, 2013.
Directors and writers Seth Rogen (R) and Evan Goldberg pose for a portrait while promoting their upcoming movie "This Is the End" at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, June 3, 2013. | (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

China, North Korea's lone major ally, said Monday it condemns any form of cyber attack, but agreed with the North Korean government that there's no evidence to prove Pyongyang's involvement in the hacking of Sony Pictures, which has led the company to cancel the planned release of the film, "The Interview."

"Before making any conclusions there has to be a full [accounting of] the facts and foundation," The Globe and Mail quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying Monday. "China will handle it in accordance with relevant international and Chinese laws according to the facts."

On Saturday, North Korea's official KCNA news agency quoted an anonymous spokesman of North Korea's foreign ministry as saying that there would be "grave consequences" if the United States refuses to conduct a joint probe and continues to accuse Pyongyang.

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Sony last week dropped its plans to release "The Interview," an action comedy about a plot to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, on Christmas Day. "Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business," the company said in a statement.

Chunying also said that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi "reaffirmed China's relevant position, emphasizing China opposes all forms of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism" while talking to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday.

"We do not know who or where they are but we can surely say that they are supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]," KCNA said. "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 hackers, who call themselves The Guardians of Peace, posted on a website last week that they promise to give a "Christmas gift" to Sony to put the company, which had already been forced to cancel the production of several films, "into the worst state."

The cyber attack, which has revealed four films along with numerous email threads and even salary details of Hollywood stars, had compelled Sony to also cancel the production of several of its film projects, as the company's network was not being able to process any payments.

North Korea's response came days after the FBI said there was enough information to "conclude that the North Korean government is responsible" for the cyber attack.

The malware "revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed," the FBI said, adding that it also noticed "significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea."

President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in canceling the release of the movie, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco and directed by Evan Goldberg and Rogen.

"I wish they had spoken to me first," Obama said at a year-end news conference. "I would have told them, 'Do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship."

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