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China Paper warns Google may pay price for hacking claims

Jun 7, 2011

Google has become a "political
tool" vilifying the Chinese government, an
official Beijing newspaper said on Monday,
warning that the U.S. Internet giant's
statements about hacking attacks traced to
China could hurt its business.
The tough warning appeared in the
overseas edition of the People's Daily, the
leading newspaper of China's ruling
Communist Party, indicating that political
tensions between the United States and
China over Internet security could linger.
Last week, Google said it had broken up an
effort to steal the passwords of hundreds of
Google email account holders, including U.S.
government officials, Chinese human rights
advocates and journalists. It said the attacks
appeared to come from China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected those
accusations, and the party newspaper
warned Google against playing a risky
political game.
By saying that Chinese human rights
activists were among the targets of the
hacking, Google was "deliberately pandering
to negative Western perceptions of China,
and strongly hinting that the hacking
attacks were the work of the Chinese
government," the People's Daily overseas
edition, a small offshoot of the main
domestic paper, said in a front-page
commentary.
"Google's accusations aimed at China are
spurious, have ulterior motives, and bear
malign intentions," said the commentary,
written by an editor at the paper.
"Google should not become overly
embroiled in international political struggle,
playing the role of a tool for political
contention," the paper added.
"For when the international winds shift
direction, it may become sacrificed to
politics and will be spurned by the
marketplace," it said, without specifying
how Google's business could be hurt.
A Google spokeswoman said the U.S. firm
had no comment on the remarks.
The latest friction with Google could bring
Internet policy back to the foreground of
U.S.-China relations, reprising tensions last
year when the Obama administration took
up Google's complaints about hacking and
censorship from China.
Google partly pulled out of China after that
dispute. Since then, it has lost more share to
rival Baidu Inc in China's Internet market,
the world's largest by user numbers with
more than 450 million users.
Google said last week that the hacking
attacks appeared to come from Jinan, the
capital of China's eastern Shandong
province and home to an intelligence unit of
the People's Liberation Army.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates over the
weekend warned that Washington was
prepared to use force against cyber-attacks
it considered acts of war.
In February, overseas Chinese websites,
inspired by anti-authoritarian uprisings
across the Arab world, called for protests
across China, raising Beijing's alarm about
dissent and prompting tightened
censorship of the Internet.
China already blocks major foreign social
websites such as Facebook and Twitter.