Beijing (AsiaNews) - China is the most dangerous hacker in the world, the worst threat to Internet freedom. Its government backs cybercrimes for economic and political advantages, this according to Eric Schmidt. Not any ordinary dissident, Google Chairman brands China in his upcoming book, The New Digital Age, as "the world's most active and enthusiastic filterer of information" and "the most sophisticated and prolific" hacker of foreign companies. Despite the mounting evidence, China's Communist authorities reject the charges.
China is widely believed to be the source of major cyber attacks that occurred between 2006 and 2011 against 72 organisations, including the International Olympic Committee, the United Nations and security firms, the Google chief alleges.
In 2011, Google said hackers based in Jinan province compromised personal and mail accounts of hundreds of top US officials, military personnel and journalists.
South Korea blamed Chinese hackers for stealing data from 35 million accounts on a popular social network in July last year.
The latest charges involve attacks against major US newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, after they published articles on the wealth of Chinese leaders, like the next president, Xi Jinping, as well as outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao. The latter is accused of using his position to enrich his family.
Schmidt's attack has prompted a quick response. "America keeps labelling China as hackers, simply playing up the rhetoric of the 'China threat' in cyberspace, providing new justification for America's strategy of containing China," the People's Daily wrote. Yet, "Even those with little understanding of the internet know that hacking attacks are transnational and concealable,"
In the book however, set for release in April, Schmidt is quoted as saying, "The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States at a distinct disadvantage." In fact, Washington "will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced)".
The book goes further, suggesting that Western governments do more to follow China's lead and develop stronger relationships between the state and technology companies.
This is a veiled reference to Huawei, China's giant telecommunications equipment maker, which is thought to work closely with Chinese authorities.