Chinese Government Denies Involvement In Google Attack

As the Google-China saga continues, we learn now that the Chinese government has adamantly denied involvement in the hacker attacks that triggered Google's threat to leave the Asian superpower. While not surprising, this does put Google at an interesting crossroads. Does it follow through with its threat or back down?First, here's what the Chinese government said, via the Associated Press:

''Any accusation that the Chinese government participated in cyberattacks, either in an explicit or indirect way, is groundless and aims to discredit China,'' an unidentified ministry spokesman said, according to a transcript of an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency posted on the ministry's Web site.

And Google never explicitly said that the Chinese government orchestrated the attacks, though that certainly seemed the clear implication. In Google's original announcement, the company said:

In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.


Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Google didn't want to connect the dots itself, but how else could this attack have been the catalyst for the company's decision to leave China? The only assumption anyone observing the situation could make here is that Google must believe that the Chinese government either authorized the attacks or approved of them. If it didn't, then how would this security threat be different than any other? After all, if there was a major hacking coming out of Canada by hackers with no affiliation with the Canadian government, then it wouldn't cause Google to withdraw from the country.

Moreover, China is insanely claiming that Google hasn't demanded justice for the attacks. According to AP:

A Chinese Internet security official questioned the allegation, saying Google had not reported its complaints to China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team.

''We have been hoping that Google will contact us so that we could have details on this issue and provide them help if necessary,'' Zhou Yonglin, the team's deputy chief of operations, said in an interview with Xinhua posted on the team's Web site.

Google would not speak on the record about its communications with China (I tried). But even if this is true -- and I highly doubt that it is -- certainly the U.S. government has complained to China about the attacks. So its authorities are well aware of the problem, and don't appear to be very cooperative.

It doesn't seem likely that Google will be able to remain in China, given the attitude of its officials regarding this incident. That is, if Google keeps its word to pull out of the nation without significant government concession. Assistance in bringing criminals to justice seems a pretty benign request to accommodate, yet China isn't even providing that base-level of cooperation. As a result, I'd be shocked if it revised its censorship policy to Google's liking, as that's a far more controversial demand.