Some two weeks after Google announced it had been the victim of sophisticated cyber attacks originating within China, the Chinese government has officially denied it had any involvement in the attacks. A spokesperson from the Chinese ministry of industry told China’s state-run news agency Xinhua that any claims Chinese authorities were behind the attacks, directly or indirectly, had no basis.
“Accusation that the Chinese government participated in cyber attack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China. We firmly opposed to that,” Xinhua quoted the spokesperson as saying.
The Chinese government is signaling absolutely no flexibility in responding to Google’s stated intentions to cease censoring search results on its Chinese-language search service, or even to wishdraw entirely from the Chinese market. In a separate Xinhua piece, a spokesperson for China’s State Council Information Office characterized China’s Internet censorship operations as an important tool for creating a “helpful information network,” and that prohibiting certain topics—including the subversion of state power, violence, terrorism, pornography—is “suitable for China’s national conditions,” and not all that different from how other countries manage the Internet. The spokesperson said China is willing to discuss Internet development and management with other countries, but will not tolerate defiance of Chinese laws or other nations attempting to influence China on Internet management issues “regardless of the truth.”
Rhetoric between China and the United States is escalating in the wake of Google’s disclosure of attacks, some of which targeted accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State HIllary Clinton urged China to investigate the attacks against Google and other companies, and that companies like Google were within their rights to refuse to support “politically motivated censorship.”