The Obama administration’s top national security official said Monday that the United States “will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state” and called on Chinese leaders to get serious about cracking down on cyber-related crimes.
In a speech to the Asia Society think tank in New York City, National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon said the United States needs China’s help on both issues.
“Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyberintrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” he said.
“From the president on down, this has become a key point of concern and discussion with China at all levels of our governments,” Mr. Donilon said during a wide-ranging speech that also outlined the motivations behind the Obama administration’s self-described foreign policy “pivot” to Asia.
Regarding “cyber enabled theft,” Mr. Donilon said U.S. authorities “need” Chinese leaders to recognize the urgency and scope of the problem, along with the risks it poses to international trade and to the reputation of Chinese industry in the world.
The specificity of his comments appeared to be tailored as a direct response to remarks made over the weekend by China’s foreign minister, who rejected recent accusations that the Chinese military has been responsible for wide-scale hacking attacks on U.S. and other foreign targets.
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Last month, the private security firm Mandiant Corp. of Alexandria, said that it had traced cyberattacks on some 115 U.S. companies — including defense contractors — to a unit of the Chinese military.
While he did not address specific accusations, such as those brought by Mandiant, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said cybercrime claims being made against China were no more than a politically motivated smear campaign.
However, in what may be considered a signal by Chinese leaders that they are open to working — or at least talking — with U.S. authorities, Mr. Yang also called for more cooperation among international authorities on the issue of cybercrime.
The sentiment appeared to be echoed in New York on Monday by Mr. Donilon, who said the United States and China, “the world’s two largest economies, both dependent on the Internet, must lead the way in addressing this problem.”
China also factored heavily into Mr. Donilon’s remarks on North Korea.
Antipathy toward Washington from North Korean leaders has escalated since Feb. 12, when Pyongyang carried out its third test of a nuclear device.
While Mr. Donilon said the Obama administration will not “stand by” while North Korea seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile that can target the United States, he stressed that the “prospects for a peaceful resolution also will require “close U.S. coordination” with China.
“We believe that no country, including China, should conduct business as usual with a North Korea that threatens its neighbors,” he said. “China’s interest in stability on the Korean Peninsula argues for a clear path to ending North Korea’s nuclear program.”
China and the U.S. worked together last week in agreeing to a new U.N. Security Council resolution — the fifth such resolution since 2006 — tightening sanctions on North Korea.
On Monday, the State Department issued designations freezing the assets of three senior North Korean officials who it says are tied directly to the nation’s nuclear program.
The designations coincided with similar actions taken toward North Korea by the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday and follow a slate of designations made by the State Department last week.