China rejects report schools linked to hacking

China has rejected a news report that U.S. investigators traced hacking attacks against Google Inc. to two Chinese schools and said suggestions the government might be involved were irresponsible.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, said Chinese law prohibits hacking and the government will take steps to stop it.

At a regular news briefing Tuesday, Ma rejected a report by The New York Times last week that investigators traced hacking attacks on Google to Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School in China.

“Reports that these attacks came from Chinese schools are groundless, and accusations of Chinese government involvement are irresponsible and out of ulterior motives,” Ma said.

Google cited the hacking attacks in a Jan. 12 announcement that said it would no longer cooperate with Chinese government censorship of the Internet and might close its China operation. The search company said attackers stole some of its computer code and tried to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists who focus on China.

A U.S. State Department spokesman in Washington said he had no immediate reaction to Ma’s comments but said American officials were talking to Chinese authorities about the matter.

“It is our perspective that individuals in China played a role in this,” spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “That continues to be our perspective and we’ll continue to have these conversations with China on this subject.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed in January for China to investigate Google’s complaints but Beijing has given no indication it is doing so.

The government’s Xinhua News Agency earlier quoted spokespeople for the university and vocational school as denying the attacks originated at their schools.

Associated Press