U.S. asks China for help on #SonyHack as Obama vows to punish North Korea

The United States has sought help from China, Japan, South Korea and Russia in combating cyber attacks such as the recent hack by North Korea on Sony Pictures. The outreach, which included meetings among U.S. and Chinese officials in both nations’ capitals, is a tacit acknowledgement that if anyone has influence over Pyongyang it is China, given its long border, historical ties and quiet trade with the North. The North is also largely isolated from the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said he would respond “proportionally” to the attack on the Sony, which brought down the firm’s computer network and led it to cancel the Christmas day release of “The Interview.”

None of them [China, Russia, Japan and South Korea] want an armed conflict and none of them want North Korea to collapse. They are all worried that this could somehow lead to a war and none of them want that.

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank

Earlier, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that there might be a Chinese link in the attack either through North Korea’s collaboration with Chinese actors, or by its using Chinese servers to mask the origin of the hack. In public, U.S. officials stressed that they had no evidence of the Chinese government’s involvement in the hack. Obama also added that the United States had “no indication that North Korea acted in conjunction with another country.” Former president George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list of terror states in 2008 in hopes of encouraging talks to halt its ongoing bid to deploy nuclear-armed missiles. But Pyongyang has remained a wildly unpredictable and reckless foe — and is still technically at war with the United States given the absence of a treaty to end their 1950-1953 conflict.

It is a very deliberate signal both to hint at the extent of U.S. evidence about this hack as well as to put China on notice of the U.S. desire to see China cooperating.

Frank Jannuzi, president of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation