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Asia-pacific

Washington wants 'answers' from China over cyber attacks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-23

A White House spokesman said Barack Obama wants "answers" from China over cyber attacks alleged by Google. China has rejected the allegations and warned Washington about harming diplomatic relations.

AFP - US President Barack Obama is "troubled" by cyberattacks on Internet giant Google and wants answers from China, the White House said Friday.
  
"As the president has said, he continues to be troubled by the cybersecurity breach that Google attributes to China," White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One traveling to Ohio.
  
"As Secretary (Hillary) Clinton said yesterday, all we are looking for from China are some answers," Burton said.
  

Clinton on Thursday urged Beijing to conduct a thorough investigation into the cyberattacks on Google and other US firms and criticized China and other nations for censoring the Web and restricting the "free flow of information."
  
China, in its strongest comments since the Google dispute erupted last week, on Friday rejected the criticism by the US secretary of state.
  
"We firmly oppose such words and deeds, which go against the facts and are harmful to China-US relations," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said. "We urge the United States to respect facts and stop using the so-called Internet freedom issue to criticize China unreasonably."
  
At the same time, Ma urged the United States not to let the Google row upset relations, which are already dogged by a range of disputes over trade and currency issues, US arms sales to Taiwan and climate change.
  
Ma said China hoped both sides would "respect each other's core interests and major concerns, properly handle differences and sensitive issues to maintain the healthy and steady development of Sino-US relations."
  
Beijing and Washington have been locked in a spiralling dispute since Google's announcement it would no longer obey China's censorship rules and might pull out of the country.
  
Google said the decision was made after it suffered cyberattacks that the company believes originated in China and appeared aimed at cracking the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists around the world.
  
Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said Thursday that the company would like to stay in China. "We wish to remain in China," he said.
  
But Schmidt said Google would stop censoring search results on its China search engine, google.cn, shortly.
  
"We continue to follow their laws, we continue to offer censored results. But in a reasonably short time from now we will be making some changes there," he said.
  
Until Friday, Beijing had generally held fire in the dispute, defending its censorship as necessary and saying foreign firms must comply, but refraining from hitting back at mounting US criticism over its control of the Internet.
  
China is believed to employ thousands of people in a vast system of Internet censorship dubbed the "Great Firewall of China," which polices what the world's largest online population can see and do on the Web.
  
Beijing regularly invokes the need to stamp out pornography as a key reason for the controls but critics contend its primary purpose is to quell political dissent or content seen as threatening to Communist Party rule.
  
In her major policy speech on Internet freedom on Thursday, Clinton called on other US technology companies not to support Internet censorship.
  
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco are among the US technology giants that have been accused by members of the US Congress and others in the past of cooperating with the "Great Firewall" by acquiescing to Beijing's demands.
  
"The private sector has a shared responsibility to help safeguard free expression," Clinton said. "And when their business dealings threaten to undermine this freedom, they need to consider what's right, not simply the prospect of quick profits."
  
Clinton said the State Department would hold a high-level meeting on Internet freedom next month with companies that provide network services.

Date created : 2010-01-22

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