Chinese site criticizes investor for Google support

Alibaba Group of China says Yahoo appeared to follow Google in suggesting the Chinese government was behind cyberattacks.

In an unusual move, the Alibaba Group of China on Saturday criticized Yahoo, one of its largest shareholders, for siding with Google after a cyberattack on that company.

John Spelich, a spokesman for Alibaba, said executives at the company were angry because Yahoo, which owns 40 percent of the Chinese Internet company, appeared to follow Google in suggesting the Chinese government was behind the cyberattacks.

Alibaba's statement reads: "Alibaba Group has communicated to Yahoo that Yahoo's statement that it is 'aligned' with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence. Alibaba doesn't share this view."

On Wednesday, Yahoo issued a statement supporting its Internet rival.

"We condemn any attempts to infiltrate company networks to obtain user information," Yahoo said in its statement. "We stand aligned with Google that these kinds of attacks are deeply disturbing and strongly believe that the violation of user privacy is something that we as Internet pioneers must all oppose."

Yahoo is one of the companies that was targeted in the attacks, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. The company has declined to confirm that it was a victim.

The people with knowledge of the situation said that Google contacted Yahoo about the attacks before it publicized them.

Google executives were dismayed that other companies were unwilling to publicly acknowledge the attacks, and they were particularly frustrated by Yahoo's silence, one person said.

Tensions between Alibaba and Yahoo have surfaced in the last year. Carol Bartz, the chief executive of Yahoo, has reportedly told Alibaba executives that Yahoo was not happy about how Alibaba handled the Yahoo Internet portal and brand in China. In September, Yahoo cashed out its investment in Alibaba.com, the publicly traded e-commerce site that is partially owned by Alibaba Group.

Yahoo's statement on the attacks did not make mention of the Chinese government playing a role in the attacks. But Google's statement earlier this week suggested the Chinese government may have orchestrated the attacks to get hold of information stored in the e-mail accounts of Chinese dissidents or human rights activists.

Because of those attacks Google has said it has grown increasingly worried about Beijing's restrictions on its operations in China and has threatened to pull out.

The statement was a stunning rebuke of the Chinese government and a rare instance of a multinational corporation challenging the leadership in a country that is becoming an increasingly important marketplace.

Alibaba called the Yahoo statement premature and 'reckless' because Google had not released any proof to support its announcement. A spokesman for Yahoo, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., could not be reached for comment.

Alibaba, one of China's best-known technology companies, operates a series of popular Web sites, including Alibaba.com, Taobao.com and Yahoo China. The company, which is based in Hangzhou, is led by Jack Ma, a former English teacher who has transformed himself into one of the country's wealthiest and most admired entrepreneurs.

Ma is a celebrity here because of his success in forcing eBay to retreat from the Chinese market, and taking over Yahoo's China operations after they lost significant market share.

Yahoo paid Alibaba $1 billion and gave Alibaba control of Yahoo China in exchange for a 40 percent stake in the Chinese company. Yahoo China continues to struggle here, but Yahoo's investment in Alibaba has paid off. Alibaba.com, a unit of Alibaba, went public in 2007 with a huge stock offering in Hong Kong and is now valued at $12.5 billion.

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