China reiterates hacking offer after Obama comments

Beijing on Thursday repeated its offer of international talks on hacking, including with the United States, after President Barack Obama stepped up Washington's rhetoric on the issue.

"China would like to carry out constructive dialogue and cooperation with the international community, including the US, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

"What cyberspace needs is not war but regulation and cooperation."

Her comments came after Obama said cyber threats affecting US firms and infrastructure were increasing, with some being "state sponsored".

"We've made it very clear to China and some other state actors that, you know, we expect them to follow international norms and abide by international rules," he said in an interview with ABC News.

"And we'll have some pretty tough talk with them. We already have."

Last month, a report from US security firm Mandiant said a unit of China's People's Liberation Army had stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organisations, mostly based in the United States.

The report provided the most detailed public account so far linking cyberattacks to China and provoked vehement denials from China.

Hua did not directly address Obama's remarks. "We believe cybersecurity is a global issue," she said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

"China is also vulnerable in terms of cybersecurity and is one of the main countries that fall victim to cyberattacks," she added.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to internet security and we firmly oppose and combat cyberattacks."

The state news agency Xinhua, noting that Obama had "joined the chorus" on China and cyberspying, criticised "any hasty accusation" as "technologically flawed and politically inappropriate".

It reiterated previous official comments that hackers' origins are difficult to pin down and that China has sought to battle such activity.

It also stressed that, as US-China ties were "the most important bilateral relations in the world, both sides should avoid aggressive rhetoric or measures toward the other.

"Blaming the attacks on Chinese hackers is a rash statement that lacks credible evidence, while picking on Beijing as backing such acts sounds like an insidious attempt to tarnish China's image," it said.