China on Tuesday denied a research report's contention that a China-based computer spy ring stole sensitive information from thousands of hard drives worldwide, calling the accusation a lie meant to feed anxiety over Beijing's growing influence.
In the government's first reaction to the report, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the conclusions were symptoms of a "Cold War virus" that causes people overseas to "occasionally be overcome by China-threat seizures."
The report by the Information Warfare Monitor added to growing concerns that China has become a center for cyber-warfare, spying and crime. Industry watchdogs have complained about junk e-mail generated in China. Officials in the U.S., Britain and Germany have accused Chinese hackers backed by China's military of intruding into their government and defense computer networks.
The Information Warfare Monitor report released Saturday said that a network, based mainly in China, hacked into classified documents from government and private organizations in 103 countries, including the computers of the Dalai Lama and his exiled Tibetan government.
Speaking at a media briefing, Qin did not directly respond to questions about whether the network exists and if its actions are supported by the government. Instead, he said Beijing opposes criminal activities that compromise computer networks and criticized the report for claiming otherwise.