China has blocked Internet access to WikiLeaks’ release of more than 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables, with its Foreign Ministry saying that it does not wish to see any disturbance in China-U.S. relations.
“China takes note of the government reports. We hope the U.S. side will handle the relevant issues,” Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said at a Beijing news conference on Tuesday. “As for the content of the documents, we will not comment on that.”
Access to the WikiLeak’s Cablegate page, as well as certain Chinese language news articles covering the topic, have been blocked in the country since Monday. Other articles from the Chinese press that are accessible on the web appear to only concern the U.S. response.
The ban on WikiLeaks comes as one of the major revelations provided by the the release was a document linking China’s Politburo to the December 2009 hack of Google’s computer systems. An unidentified Chinese contact told the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that China’s Politburo had “directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems,” the New York Times reported Sunday, citing one of the cables.
Although the cable does not provide conclusive proof linking China to the Google attack, it reinforces the concern that the Chinese government has sponsored organized hacking attempts against U.S. computers.
“The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government,” the Times reported. “They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.”
Last year’s coordinated attack, known as Aurora, targeted Google and more than 30 other companies. In the case of Google, the company reported that some of its intellectual property had been stolen by the attack. Both Google and the State Department have implied they believe China was behind the hacking. But in past statements, China has denied any involvement.
China has blocked websites in the past when their content concerned politically sensitive material. Popular websites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are currently inaccessible within the country.