US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on the Chinese government to explain the alleged attacks on Google and around 20 other companies in December.
Google announced yesterday that it is considering pulling out of China after a series of hacking attacks against its servers. Other companies have also given details of the attacks, which were highly targeted and aimed at stealing corporate information or user data.
"We have been briefed by Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions," Clinton said in a statement.
"We look to the Chinese government for an explanation. The ability to operate with confidence in cyber space is critical in a modern society and economy. I will be giving an address next week on the centrality of internet freedom in the 21st century, and we will have further comment on this matter as the facts become clear."
The US Computer & Communications Industry Association trade body for the industry has joined in requesting the Chinese government to relax its attitude to censorship.
"It is increasingly apparent that censorship is a barrier to trade, and that China cannot limit the free flow of information and still comply with its international trade obligations," the organisation said.
"The Chinese government has said it is gathering more information before deciding how to proceed, and we would urge that they look at the issue holistically with government, economic and trade officials involved in the decision."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has added its voice to calls for Western companies to reduce or stop dealings with the Chinese regime until it loosens its grip on internet use.
"Our hope is that other tech companies will follow Google's lead. Too many of them have been willing to comply with Chinese demands that they check their values at the border," the group said.
"Google has stepped up to this challenge. Now it's up to technologists and policy makers to build the tools and to apply the political, economic and cultural pressure."
Meanwhile in China people have been visiting Google's local headquarters and placing flowers on the corporate logo outside the building.
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