China ordered major hack attacks on Google

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Contacts told American diplomats that hacking attacks against Google were ordered by China’s top ruling body and a senior leader demanded action after finding search results that were critical of him, leaked U.S. government memos show.

One memo sent by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to Washington said a “well-placed contact” told diplomats the Chinese government coordinated the attacks late last year on Google Inc. under the direction of the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of Communist Party power.

The details of the memos, known in diplomatic parlance as cables, could not be verified. Chinese government departments either refused to comment or could not be reached. If true, the cables show the political pressures that were facing Google when it decided to close its China-based search engine in March.

The cable about the hacking attacks against Google, which was classified as secret by Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Goldberg, was released by WikiLeaks.

The New York Times said the cable, dated early this year, quoted the contact as saying that propaganda chief Li Changchun, the fifth-ranked official in the country, and top security official Zhou Yongkang oversaw the hacking of Google. Both men are members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

The cable notes that it is unclear if Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were aware of the reported actions before Google went public about the attacks in January.

The Times, however, said doubts about the allegation have arisen after the newspaper interviewed the person cited in the cable, who denied knowing who directed the hacking attacks on Google. The Times did not identify the person it interviewed.

Another contact cited in that cable said he believed an official on the top political body was “working actively with Chinese Internet search engine Baidu against Google’s interests in China.”

Google’s relations with Beijing have been tense since the U.S.-based search giant said in January it no longer wanted to cooperate with Chinese Web censorship following computer hacking attacks on Google’s computer code and efforts to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. Google closed its mainland China-based search engine on March 22 and began routing users to its uncensored Hong Kong site.

Google’s spokeswoman in Tokyo, Jessica Powell, said the company had no comment on the cables released by Wikileaks, and on the hacking attacks, referred to a January statement that said it had evidence that the attack came from China. Google at the time declined to say whether the government was involved.

A man who answered the phone at the spokesman’s office of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said no one was available to comment Sunday. Calls to the Foreign Ministry and the State Council Information Office, which is responsible for regulating Internet contact, rang unanswered.

The hacking that angered Google and hit dozens of other businesses was part of a rash of attacks aimed at a wide array of targets, from a British military contractor to banks. Experts said then the highly skilled attacks suggested the military or other government agencies might be breaking into computers to steal technology and trade secrets to help state companies.

In February, Peng Bo, a high-ranking official with the Internet bureau of the State Council Information Office, said the Chinese government was not involved in or supportive of cyber attacks, and called such accusations “sheer nonsense.”

A separate cable released by WikiLeaks showed a Politburo member demanded action against Google after looking for his own name on the search engine and finding criticism of him.

In the version of the May 18, 2009, cable released by Wikileaks, the identity of the official was apparently removed. But the Times reported it was Li, the propaganda chief.

The cable, classified as confidential, cited a source as saying the Chinese official had realized that Google’s worldwide site is uncensored, capable of Chinese language searches and search results, and that there is a link from the home page of its China site, google.cn, to google.com.

The official “allegedly entered his own name and found results critical of him,” and asked three government ministries to write a report about Google and “demand that the company ceases its ‘illegal activities,’ which include linking to google.com,” the cable said.

The cable said American officials could neither confirm nor deny the details given by the contacts about the Chinese leadership’s action.

A contact also said that China asked its three state-owned telecommunications companies to stop working with the search giant, the cable showed. China’s main state-owned phone carriers are China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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7 Responses to "China ordered major hack attacks on Google"

  1. Carl Nemo  December 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    “The cable about the hacking attacks against Google, which was classified as secret by Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Goldberg, was released by WikiLeaks.” …extract from article

    This is a prime example of how our now criminally disposed government will ‘suck up’ to the “Red Chinese” even suppressing information concerning their nationally sponsored hacking attacks on Google.

    Our Congressional contingent and trade reps will do anything to placate China. Why so? They own our collective butts lock, stock and barrel relative to debt and the markets.

    Everytime our people patronize Walmart they are in effect helping to arm and support our sworn enemies regardless of the seemingly consumer friendly goods that say “Made in China”.

    True freedom and public dissent are as oil to water relative to the Chinese leadership, so too our leadership is progressing along nicely in the same direction. In time there will be little difference between Beijing and D.C. in terms of how they both view and treat their citizens.

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. b mcclellan  December 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    If a nation has nothing to hide,
    she will need plenty of of cash,
    and a strong military to cover it up…Hack.

  3. b mcclellan  December 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    As broadcast by the CBSTS, a.k.a. (can’t believe shit they say ).
    Attention !
    Do not touch the noose,
    you shall all choke in unison.

  4. Jeb  December 6, 2010 at 9:02 am

    It’s really a matter of time. China is a member of the world community and it’s citizens are world participants.

    • Carl Nemo  December 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm

      You surely jest Jeb? You must be ‘Jeb Bush’. I could visualize him touting such while on the campaign trail in the next presidential campaign.

      China is a rogue nation, basically doing whatever it wants. It refuses to let its currency float in the FOREX markets with its fixed ‘peg’ as a function of the Chinese ‘planners’ who are using it as a veiled measure of warfare as a function of the practices of “Sun Tzu”. They’re doing us bigtime via their currency, their trade practices and even their attempt to hack Google and our DOD functions on occasion. They are always probing the perimeter of our defenses across a broad spectrum. They are like the “Borg” from the “Star Trek” series and will ultimately absorb us all like it or not.

      As far as nuclear war is concerned, its already been “gamed” out that they along with India and Malaysia will be the premier survivors of such an unthinkable exchange. Once the radiation subsides, they’ll have a lot of fine farmland and water supplies (theGreat Lakes) to take care of their survivors for sure into the next millennia. The remnant populations of North America will make for useful slaves working their newly acquired farmlands and mines.

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Bill  December 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

        Getting a little farfetched here Carl. While I agree with your earlier (Dec 5@2:02 pm) comment, I don’t believe that China is planning a nuclear war, a war that nobody in their right minds would consider a solution. There is no need for war, not physical war anyway. Trade war, economic war, financial wars are the future means of combat and I agree that China is slowly killing us and our ability to react and respond to economic assaults.

        But don’t forget the fact that they hold over a Trillion Dollars of our debt, and when they revalue the RMB, it costs them billions of dollars. In the past 5 years the exchange has gone from 8.1 Rembi to the dollar and is now around 6.6 to the dollar. That coupled with their inflation and money dumping around Africa and South America can only be tolerated as long as their economy is booming and producing megabucks. So forget the bombs, they are killing us with slingshots.

        Dead is dead, and unless we do something to stop this assault on our economy/country, we will all be eating with chopsticks. I guess that means you should buy stock in Georgia-Pacific as a hedge against China’s world domination.

        There are real solutions, but the assholes in Congress are too busy picking at each other or feathering their own nests to stop and consider plans of action. I can’t believe the Republicans got elected and are back in control of the House and in a much stronger position in the Senate. People’s memories are unbelievably short because if they weren’t, they would recall who got us into this disaster in the first place. We needed to clean House and Senate, but instead we swept the dirt back into the room.

        How sad, but how glad I am that I’m old and won’t be around to see the demise of our great nation. Here I sit in Viet Nam, eating with chopsticks (I always liked leading, not following, and stepping to the music of my own drummer…). Perhaps it is time for another Revolution, for that seems to be the only way WE THE PEOPLE can reclaim our government from the carpetbaggers in Congress.

  5. Carl Nemo  December 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Hi Bill,

    I surely hope you are correct in that nuclear war is not inevitable, but the Chinese General staff thinks otherwise. They won’t cotton to us meddling in their affairs concerning the annexation of Taiwan which for all practical purposes is a fait accompli based on their business ties.

    We’re also planning naval exercises in the South China Sea which to the Chinese is considered to be no different than the Mediterranean Sea, “Mare Nostrum” (our sea) to the ancient Romans.

    We need to stack arms and stay away from obvious Chinese zones of influence no different than we would like them conducting maneuvers right off our coasts or in the Gulf of Mexico.

    I thought I’d supply some commentary on behalf of General Zhu in a July 2005 Financial Times article relative to nuclear war with the U.S. His comments were discounted, but surely not on my behalf. To disrespect the strength and actions of our potential enemies is a recipe for deadly consequences to our nation.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jul/16/china.jonathanwatts

    A few weeks back you were complaining about your hassles with TSA and I offered some feedback concerning the NSA, phone calls, parsed trigger words etc. I didn’t save the post so I have no idea if you read the reply? I referenced a poster who’s handle was “barak”. He too lived in Vietnam and referenced similar difficulties. If you are barak, no problem. I miss his posts to this site.

    Carl Nemo **==

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