06/07/2011, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing threatens to exclude Google from its domestic market

Last week, Google said that hackers in China tried to break into email addresses. Yesterday, the People’s Daily, a leading Communist Party newspaper, denied the “false charges”, calling them a “political tool” to vilify the Chinese government for ulterior motives. It warned of serious consequences.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Google has become a "political tool" vilifying the Chinese government, the People's Daily, a leading Communist Party newspaper, said yesterday in its overseas edition, warning that the US internet giant's statements about hacking attacks traced to China could hurt its business.

Last week, Google said it foiled an attempt to steal the passwords of hundreds of its email account holders, including Chinese human rights advocates, journalists and US officials. It said the 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.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates over the weekend warned that Washington was prepared to use force against cyber-attacks it considered acts of war. China’s Foreign Ministry rejected all charges.

The article in the People’s Daily suggests that political tensions between the United States and China over Internet security could linger.

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 said in its front-page commentary. "Google's accusations aimed at China are spurious, have ulterior motives, and bear malign intentions,” the commentary said. "Google should not become overly embroiled in international political struggle, playing the role of a tool for political contention," it warned.

Google had been embroiled in a controversy with Beijing for quite some time after it refused to hand over user information. Last year, it accused the mainland of censorship and hacker attacks, charges that led to tensions in US-Chinese relations.

Google partly pulled out of China after that dispute. Since then, it has lost more share to rival Baidu in China's Internet market, the world's largest with more than 450 million users.

Beijing wants total domestic control over the internet, fearful that news could be used to organise protests.

In February, a call for protest was posted online for people to meet in specific places. Police acted swiftly to patrol these sites even if no protest or unusual gathering occurred. The incident did however highlight Beijing’s growing desire for tighter internet controls.

Most social networks like Facebook and Twitter are already blocked, as other many foreign information websites.

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