China has responded angrily to suggestions that it was behind the recent hacking attacks on Google and at least 20 other firms, branding the accusations "groundless".
Google has refrained from directly accusing the Chinese authorities for the hacking attempts, and most of the other firms - such as Adobe - have maintained that their investigations are ongoing, but the web giant said that it is considering withdrawing from the region as a result.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton went further in a speech on internet freedom last week, arguing that "a new information curtain is descending across much of the world" thanks to the activities of countries like China.
Clinton also called on the Chinese government to conduct an immediate and transparent review of the hacking allegations raised by Google and others.
However, a spokesman for the Chinese industry and information technology ministry said in an interview with the state-run Xinhua news service yesterday that "China's policy on internet safety is transparent and consistent".
"[The] accusation that the Chinese government participated in [a] cyber attack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China. We [are] firmly opposed to that," the spokesman said.
"China is the biggest victim country of hacking as its internet has long been facing severe threats of hacker and online virus attacks."
The State Council Information Office repeated the same uncompromising stance in a statement on the Chinese government's official web portal, Gov.cn.
"China's regulation of the internet industry is in line with the laws, and should be free from unjustifiable interferences," it said.
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