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China downplays 'cyber attack' on French embassy website

December 12, 2008

BEIJING December 11, 2008 (AFP) — China downplayed Thursday an alleged cyber attack on the website of the French Embassy in Beijing, saying there was no clear link between the shutdown and a diplomatic row with France over Tibet.
 
"From the perspective of the Chinese government, China is against the hacking of the websites of the embassies of other nations," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told journalists.
 
"We have not seen any questions or concerns raised by France."
 
However a French diplomat told AFP the embassy website had been inaccessible for several days due to a massive cyber attack following President Nicolas Sarkozy's weekend meeting with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
 
"The server was attacked for several days, saturated by massive requests for a connection, mostly coming at night," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
 
Some French media reports have said Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama, which greatly angered Beijing, was the motive behind the attacks.
 
"We have taken note of relevant reports, but from the reports I have seen this is speculation," Liu said.
 
"When reporting or covering this issue, the media should base their reports on solid proof and not target China."
 
China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for his homeland -- despite his repeated denials -- and views it as a national affront when foreign leaders meet him.
 
China has ruled Tibet since 1951, after sending in troops to "liberate" the Himalayan region the previous year.
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