China accuses Google of "political games"

The FBI is investigating the hacking of personal Gmail accounts of top U.S. government officials. Google says unknown hackers from Jinan, China are to blame for the security breach. CBS

BEIJING — The Chinese Communist Party's main newspaper lashed out at Google on Monday, saying its latest complaints of computer hacking traced to China were politically motivated and warning its business might suffer.

"Google's accusations against China are fictitious and have ulterior motives and sinister intentions," the People's Daily said in its foreign edition.

The newspaper accused Google Inc. of trying to fan disputes between Beijing and Washington and hamper cooperation in fighting cybercrime.

Google said last week it had traced hacking attacks against the email accounts of several hundred people, including U.S. government officials, military personnel and political activists, to the eastern Chinese city of Jinan. Beijing denied responsibility for the attacks.

"Google should not be drawn into international political conflicts and serve as a tool for political games, because one fears that if international political winds shift it might be sacrificed and suffer in the marketplace," the editorial said.

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Google's relations with Beijing have been chilly since the company, based in Mountain View, California, closed its China search engine last year following a public dispute over censorship that angered Communist leaders.

The company was allowed to keep a network of advertising sales offices in China. But without a local online presence, its share of the Chinese search market has plunged to 19.2 percent from 35.6 percent in the final quarter of 2009, according to Analysys International, a Beijing research firm.

The FBI has said it is investigating the latest allegations of hacking from China and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called them "very serious."

Jinan is the site of a military vocational school whose computers were linked to a more sophisticated assault on Google's systems 17 months ago. The two attacks are not believed to be linked.

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