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U.S. Reaches Out to China in Effort to Respond to Hacking
From the Wall Street Journal of Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:54:21 EST
The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif., shown on Dec. 16.
The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif., shown on Dec. 16. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

KAILUA, Hawaii—The Obama administration is seeking assistance from China as U.S. officials craft President Barack Obama’s promised response to North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures, senior administration officials said Saturday.

Mr. Obama vowed on Friday to retaliate against Pyongyang for the hacking and is expected to receive recommendations from aides in coming days while on vacation in Hawaii.

In recent days, U.S. officials have been communicating with Chinese officials in attempt to get Beijing to intervene.

“We have discussed this issue with the Chinese to share information, express our concerns about this attack, and to ask for their cooperation,” a senior administration official said. “In our cybersecurity discussions, both China and the United States have expressed the view that conducting destructive attacks in cyberspace is outside the norms of appropriate cyber behavior.”

China is a critical conduit for the U.S. on matters concerning North Korea, given its relationship with rulers of the isolated dictatorship. But cybersecurity also has been a point of contention between the U.S. and China, particularly after the Justice Department’s indictment earlier this year of five Chinese military officials accused of stealing information from American companies.

Cybersecurity was a subject of Mr. Obama’s conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping last month during his visit to Beijing.

Given those tensions, it is unclear whether Beijing will cooperate. Further, the U.S. has turned to China following other tensions involving North Korea, including missile launches, nuclear tests and encounters between North and South Korea, and has rarely been satisfied with the results.

One of the options U.S. officials are considering as part of their response is to redesignate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, a move that would bring more intense sanctions to a country that is already among the most isolated in the world.

North Korea denied on Saturday that it was behind the online attack that compromised Sony Pictures’ data, leading to a decision by the company to cancel the planned release of a satirical movie involving a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The White House said it stood by its accusation that the attack was carried out by Pyongyang.

Write to Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com



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