In the wake of the dispute between Google and Beijing over hacking allegations, India has now waded in to the fray, accusing Chinese hackers of attacking their government computer systems with a Trojan virus.
A mere week after similar accusations were made by Google, India claimed that China tried to infiltrate its computer network, but while Google claimed to have lost intellectual property in the attack, India said they managed to cut the virus off before it did any damage.
Beijing have responded angrily to the charge, and some may argue rightly so. India’s National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan’s insight did little to shed light on the investigative procedures employed in India, saying only that: "People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded." It seems India’s case, might only be an educated guess at most.
On the other hand, Chinese hackers have been making a name for themselves in cyberspace recently, and not just for their alleged attack on Google’s email services. In July Chinese hackers attacked the website of the Melbourne Film Festival for showing Rebiya Kadeer’s "Ten Conditions of Love", leaving a Chinese flag and angry messages. Despite India’s tenuous evidence for suspecting Chinese hackers, it could well be argued that China’s record in this respect is far from clean.
But whether or not China is behind the attack on India’s government network, it’s likely that the allegations are indicative of other, larger problems in bilateral relations. Tensions between India and China have recently been inflamed by territorial disputes in the north, and while India resents China’s relationship with Pakistan and its other regional foes, it is also concerned about improving relations between Washington and Delhi.
The Chinese government has denied the allegations that it was responsible for any illicit hacking. "I can say that these accusations are groundless," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu. "The Chinese government is firmly against hacking activities and will deal with relevant cases in accordance with the law," he said.
The attacks are either symptomatic of diplomatic tensions or injured parties are merely crying wolf to prop up a growing list of dissatisfactions with Beijing.