China denies involvement in Google cyberattacks

China's government issues statements denying any state involvement in the cyberattacks on the search giant and defending its online censorship.

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After warning of strained U.S.-China relations, China's government has issued statements denying any state involvement in the cyberattacks on Google and defending its online censorship.

The statements, issued Monday Beijing time and carried on the state news agency Xinhua, come nearly two weeks after Google threatened to pull out of the country after finding that e-mail accounts belonging to human rights activists had been compromised and separately deciding it was no longer interested in self-censoring search results.

Any "accusation that the Chinese government participated in [any] cyberattack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China," an unidentified spokesman for China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology told Xinhua. "We [are] firmly opposed to that."

In a statement posted to China's official Web site, the State Council Information Office defended China's regulation of the Internet as legal and said it should be free of interference from outside parties.

"Online information which incites subversion of state power, violence, and terrorism or includes pornographic contents are explicitly prohibited in the laws and regulations...China has full justification to deal with these illegal and harmful online contents," said a State Council Information Office representative.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally denounced Internet censorship in a speech Thursday that was directed both at the private and public sectors. For corporations, she said, "Censorship should not be accepted by any company from anywhere. American companies need to make a principled stand."

China, which has stated that companies doing business in that country must respect and adhere to its laws, responded by warning that the new U.S. stance could hurt relations between the two countries.

"The U.S. has criticized China's policies to administer the Internet and insinuated that China restricts Internet freedom...This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-U.S. relations," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Google disclosed the attacks targeting it and other U.S. companies on January 12 and said the attacks originated in China. The company said it discovered the attacks in mid-December. And while it did not specifically implicate the Chinese government, Google said it may withdraw from doing business in China.

Source code was stolen from more than 30 Silicon Valley companies targeted in the attack, sources said. Adobe Systems has confirmed that it was targeted by an attack, and sources have said Yahoo, Symantec, Juniper Networks, Northrop Grumman, and Dow Chemical also were targets.