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Tough talk with China over hacking, says Obama

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President Obama said the United States has engaged in "tough talk" over state-sponsored hacking with China and other countries but cautioned against portraying cyber espionage as war.

"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 told ABC News in an interview that aired March 13.

However, he said that "you always have to be careful war analogies. Because, you know, there's a big difference between them engaging in cyber espionage or cyber attacks and, obviously, a hot war."

Obama's remarks were broadcast on a day he's set to meet with chief executive officers of technology and defense companies on the subject of cyber threats; the CEOs include David Cote of Honeywell International, Randall Stephenson of AT&T and Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman, reports Reuters.

The Obama administration has recently staked out a more publicly vocal response to Chinese hacking. During a March 11 speech before the Asia Society, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon called on China to "take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities."

In addition, he said the Chinese government must recognize the "urgency and scope of this problem and the risk it poses--to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations" and should engage in direct talks to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.

Chinese officials have denied state involvement in hacking. An article published by official news agency Xinhua after Alexandria, Va.-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant's report on Chinese military involvement in cyber espionage mocked it as a "commercial stunt."

However, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday in a widely reported statement that "cyberspace needs rules and cooperation, not wars. China is willing to have constructive dialogue and cooperation with the global community, including the United States."

For more:
- read a transcript of Obama's interview with ABC News
- read Donilon's speech

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