China Blocks Access to WikiLeaks

Latest Batch of Documents Points to China on Google, North Korea Issues

BEIJING -- China’s Internet regulators have blocked access to WikiLeaks’ release of more than a quarter of a million U.S. State Department cables, including a document linking the nation’s Politburo to the December 2009 hacking of Google's computer systems.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said that the government wished to avoid disturbing Sino-U.S. relations and would not comment on the documents -- some of which also revealed China’s lack of solid support for North Korea its long-time communist ally.

"China takes note of the government reports. We hope the U.S. side will handle the relevant issues," Hong Lei, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a regularly scheduled news conference Tuesday in the capital.

China regularly blocks information its one-party government deems sensitive, and since Monday has denied easy access to the WikiLeaks site and also to a handful of Chinese language news articles covering the topic – many of which can be accessed with a proxy server.

An unidentified Chinese contact told the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that China's Politburo had "directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems," The New York Times reported Sunday, citing one of the cables published by WikiLeaks. That intrusion ultimately led to Google's withdrawal from China, choosing to operate only from Hong Kong, which although under Chinese sovereignty enjoys greater freedoms and access to media.

Although not solid proof that Beijing was behind the attacks to the world's leading search engine, the document has refreshed concerns that the Chinese government has backed the hacking of U.S. computers.

YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are among the popular Western websites currently blocked in China at a time when domestic competitors are developing quickly to tap the groundswell of Internet usage by the world’s largest online population, now numbering 420 million.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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