China “disapproves” of U.S. sanctions programme targeting cyber attackers

China’s foreign ministry says it “disapproves” of a U.S. sanctions program targeting overseas cyber attackers.

BEIJING, CHINA (APRIL 2, 2015) (REUTERS) – China said on Thursday (April 2) that it “disapproves” of U.S. sanctions program targeting overseas cyber attackers.

U.S. President Barack Obama launched a sanctions program on Wednesday (April 1) to target individuals and groups outside the United States that use cyber attacks to threaten U.S. foreign policy, national security or economic stability.

In an executive order, Obama declared such activities a “national emergency” and allowed the U.S. Treasury Department to freeze assets and bar other financial transactions of entities engaged in destructive cyber attacks.

The executive order gave the administration the same sanctions tools it deploys to address other threats, including crises in the Middle East and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Those tools are now available for a growing epidemic of cyber threats aimed at U.S. computer networks.

The effort to toughen the response to hacking follows indictments of five Chinese military officers and the decision to “name and shame” North Korea for a high-profile attack on Sony. Officials said they hoped U.S. allies would follow suit.

China, which routinely denies accusations by U.S. investigators that hackers backed by the Chinese government have been behind attacks on U.S. companies, said the international community should cooperate to find a solution.

“We ask the international community to work together to resolve the problem (of cyber security attacks) through dialogue and cooperation. China consistently does not approve of any one country using its domestic law to implement sanctions at every turn against the people or entities in another country,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

“China firmly opposes and cracks down on any form of cyber attacks. This stance is consistent and clear. Internet security is in the interest of all countries. Cyber attacks are characteristically cross-border incidents and their origins are difficult to track,” Hua added.

Just last week U.S. coding site GitHub said it was deflecting most of the traffic from a days-long cyber attack that had caused intermittent outages for the social coding site, with the Wall Street Journal citing China as the source of the attack.

Obama has moved cybersecurity toward the top of his 2015 agenda after recent breaches. Last month, the Central Intelligence Agency announced a major overhaul aimed in part at sharpening its focus on cyber operations.