Why Did China Spy on Google?

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Why did China spy on Google?

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The New York Times' David Sanger and John Markoff report that the U.S. is keeping mum on the Google/China dust-up in part because of the severity of the cyber-intrusion that sparked Google's decision:

Last month, when Google engineers at their sprawling campus in Silicon Valley began to suspect that Chinese intruders were breaking into private Gmail accounts, the company began a secret counteroffensive.

It managed to gain access to a computer in Taiwan that it suspected of being the source of the attacks. Peering inside that machine, company engineers actually saw evidence of the aftermath of the attacks, not only at Google, but also at at least 33 other companies, including Adobe Systems, Northrop Grumman and Juniper Networks, according to a government consultant who has spoken with the investigators....

...Besides being unable to firmly establish the source of the attacks, Google investigators have been unable to determine the goal: to gain commercial advantage; insert spyware; break into the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and American experts on China who frequently exchange e-mail messages with administration officials; or all three. In fact, at least one prominent Washington research organization with close ties to administration officials was among those hacked, according to one person familiar with the episode.

There is growing body of argument (see Jordan Calinoff in FP today) that the Google contretemps is the culmination of a Chinese policy to make the country less hospitable to foreign corporations. That may indeed be the case, but this particular incident sounds more like run-of-the-mill spying to me, not industrial policy.

(AP Photos)

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