BEIJING, Jan. 25, 2010 -- The diplomatic standoff in the case of Google vs. China continues with the Chinese government denying any involvement in the alleged hacking attacks on Google and defending its practice of online censorship.
But in an apparent bid to prevent further fallout, Beijing also declared its willingness to cooperate with the international community to combat Internet crimes.
A statement published by the official state news agency from a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the "accusation that the Chinese government participated in a cyberattack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China."
The statement did not specifically refer to Google or the U.S. government, but it followed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call Thursday for Beijing to investigate Google's allegations.
The statement also did not say if the Chinese authorities conducted any formal probe. Instead, it reiterated the government's "firm opposition" to Internet hacking and said China was actually "the biggest victim" of hacking and online virus attacks.
The statement said the Chinese government wanted to "deepen cooperation with other countries" on Internet security and "learn from their experiences to make the Internet a better place."
Meanwhile, an official from the Information Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, defended the censorship of so-called "illegal and harmful online contents" as necessary to protect citizens and the government. He said it is "harmful" to allow online information that "incites subversion of state power, violence and terrorism or includes pornographic contents."
Speaking to China's state media, the unnamed official said such censorship "has nothing to do with the claims of 'restrictions on Internet freedom.'"
He pointed out that different countries have different conditions and argued that China's regulation of the Internet is suited to the country's conditions and in line with common practice in most countries.
U.S. Confirms Meetings With China Over Google Hacking Claims
The Cabinet official also expressed China's willingness to exchange opinions with other countries about Internet management but objected to "unjustifiable interference" under the "pretext of Internet freedom."
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson confirmed to ABC News that American and Chinese officials have met in Washington and Beijing regarding the Google case. But she declined to disclose more details about these meetings.
In a related development, China's official news agency reported Saturday that the government agency that deals with Internet security issues had not yet received any report from Google about the cyber attacks that originated from China.
Zhou Yonglin, a senior official of China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team, told the news agency his office has been hoping Google would provide more detailed information about its allegations of hacking attacks from servers based in China.
Zhou said a hacker with an Internet protocol address in China wouldn't necessarily be a Chinese hacker, since "the openness of the Internet has decided that there's no border in hackers' attacks."
Other state-owned newspapers went further in criticizing the U.S. and accusing it of so-called "information imperialism."
According to the Global Times, the Google case was "turned into a political card used by the U.S. government to attack others." It said the U.S. is seeking "to promote its Internet hegemony, hoping that the whole world could be subservient in an information world centered around the American ideology."
The newspaper said Hillary Clinton's version of Internet freedom was "a freedom that is dominated by the U.S."
And, according to a commentary in the China Daily, "the Google incident is only one pawn … of the U.S. Internet strategy; the United States is obviously seeking Internet hegemony."