China voices opposition to Obama cyber sanctions

China opposes a new U.S. sanctions regime targeting hackers and cybercriminals, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Hua Chunying suggested that the announcement of a new sanctions framework by President Obama was an affront to China.


“Cybersecurity concerns the common interests of all countries,” Hua said, according to Xinhua.

“The international community should jointly solve the issue of cyberattacks through dialogue and cooperation, and based on mutual respect and trust.”

Obama declared cyberattacks a “national emergency” on Wednesday and said his administration will step up punishment for hackers who inflict damage on U.S. institutions.

The executive order allows the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of individuals and entities involved in significant and malicious cyberactivity against the United States.

China fits into this category, according to security experts, though the White House did not mention it during the announcement.

Treasury officials are already empowered to issue country-specific sanctions; the new regime is targeted at malicious cyberactivity that might not be related to a nation state.

The comments by Hua underscore the tensions that exist between the United States and China on cyber issues. Just in the last two weeks, Internet free speech activists have accused China of seeking to shut down GitHub, the popular U.S. coding site, through denial-of-service attacks.