China attacked Google over anti-censorship moves, WikiLeaks cables claim

China’s propaganda chief was identified by the United States as the official responsible for leading a hacking attack against internet search giant Google earlier this year, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

The latest release is only one of several embarrassing revelations, with other documents revealing former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told US secretary of state Hilary Clinton that force should be used against China if its integration into the global community “goes wrong”.

The New York Times, which has received early access to the cables, has reported that Li Changchun has been named as responsible for the attacks. The cables show that the Chinese Government was unhappy with the fact that Google would not remove a link from the site to the uncensored

The cable also states that, according to a Chinese source, Changchun found articles critical of him when he typed his own name into the Google search engine.

“A well-placed contact claims that the Chinese government coordinated the recent intrusions of Google systems. According to our contact, the closely held operations were directed at the Politburo Standing Committee level,” the cable apparently states.

The attack came shortly afterwards, directed at several of the email addresses of Chinese human rights activists. The global community swiftly condemned the attacks, with Clinton quickly blaming the Chinese.

But the report also suggests that the Chinese Government is now more accepting of the internet, or at least in its use for maintaining control. Another cabled cited by the NYT states that the Chinese State Council Information delivered a report saying that the “web is fundamentally controllable”.

The Chinese Government is thus using the internet more as a basis for cyber-attacks. The cables cite several instances, some taking place even as early as 2002, where Chinese hackers have been able to successfully attack websites in the United States, including official government websites.

The cables state that during one incident in 2008, a Chinese attack gained over 50 megabytes of data from a government agency including emails, along with user names and passwords.

These cables are only some of several documents that reveal embarrassing details of the Chinese Government. Last week, several cables referenced a somewhat benevolent attitude from the Chinese towards North Korea, and new documents unveil the details of secret discussions between former prime minster Kevin Rudd and Clinton over how to deal with China’s growth.

According to The Guardian, the cable reveals that in March 2009, Rudd said China was “paranoid” regarding Taiwan and Tibet, and that the plans for an Asia-Pacific community were intended to soften the country’s impact in the region.

The cable reveals that Clinton asked Rudd, “how do you deal toughly with your banker?” in response to questions regarding the United States’ debt.

The cable also shows Rudd said he was a “brutal realist on China”, and that China must be integrated into the international community, “while also preparing to deploy force if everything goes wrong”. It is also revealed that Australia’s build-up of submarine technology was “a response to China’s growing ability to project force”.

The leak is set to further frustrate Rudd’s relationship with China as foreign affairs minister, but the Government has refused to comment so far.

”The government has made it clear it has no intention to provide commentary on the content of US classified documents,” attorney-general Robert McClelland has said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police has said that while Google may have breached the Telecommunications Act by taking data from private Wi-Fi networks through Street View cars, there is a low chance the company will be prosecuted.

“Due to the technical complexity of any possible breach, the AFP engaged external senior counsel to assist in the assessment of the referral. Advice provided by the senior counsel concluded that the activities of Google may have constituted a breach of the [Act],” the AFP said on Friday.

“Evidence exists to suggest that the potential breach of the TIA by Google was inadvertent. Coupled with the difficulty of gathering sufficient evidence required for an examination of potential breaches, the AFP has concluded that it would not be an efficient and effective use of the AFP’s resources to pursue this matter any further.”


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