China has issued a clear warning against Google's plans to grow its business in the People's Republic and labelled the company a "political tool" after hacking claims the company made against Beijing last week.
Google claimed on 1 June that it had uncovered a sophisticated spear phishing attack on prominent US individuals which had originated from China. It said it had detected a targeted campaign to collect hundreds of personal Gmail passwords, many of them belonging to key US government officials, Chinese political activists, military personnel and journalists.
According to Mountain View's claims, those accounts may have been compromised using spear phishing techniques in which victims received highly personalised messages that contained links to counterfeit Gmail pages.
Google claimed that the campaign appeared to "originate from Jinan, China", but didn't present any supporting evidence when it revealed its findings in a blog post last week.
Now, official Beijing newspaper the People's Daily has penned a stern comment piece in its overseas edition, slamming Google for taking a damaging political stance against Communist Party-run China.
It said, according to Reuters, that Google was "deliberately pandering to negative Western perceptions of China, and strongly hinting that the hacking attacks were the work of the Chinese government".
The newspaper added that Google's claims aimed at China "were spurious, have ulterior motives, and bear malign intentions.
"Google should not become overly embroiled in international political struggle, playing the role of a tool for political contention," it argued.
"For when the international winds shift direction, it may become sacrificed to politics and will be spurned by the marketplace."
The comment piece echoed earlier remarks made by Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, who said last week that that the "claims of so-called Chinese state support for hacking are completely fictitious and have ulterior motives."
Similarly, official Chinese news agency Xinhua published an editorial on 2 June in which it stated that "enhancing global trust between stakeholders in cyberspace" had been damaged by Google's "chimerical complaints".
The Chinese army, meanwhile, has been mulling over ramping up its cyber-warfare plans, even though the country's infamous Great Firewall is one of the most stringent of its kind in the world today. ®