The official mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party on Monday roundly rejected claims of hacking attacks from China by American media outlets, hinting instead at ulterior motives by the US.
The People’s Daily article echoed vehement government rejections last week after The New York Times and Wall Street Journal linked Beijing to cyberattacks.
In a fresh development, The Washington Post disclosed  on Saturday that it had suffered an attack and suspects Chinese hackers were behind it.
“Even those with little understanding of the internet know that hacking attacks are transnational and concealable,” said the signed Chinese-language commentary, which could not be found on the paper’s English-language website.
“IP addresses simply do not constitute sufficient evidence to confirm the origins of hackers,” it added.
The People’s Daily accused the United States of fanning “fear of China” out of self interest, saying that it has invoked national security as a justification for trade protectionism and economic sanctions.
“America keeps labelling China as hackers, simply playing up the rhetoric of the ‘China threat’ in cyberspace, providing new justification for America’s strategy of containing China,” it said.
The article repeated the Beijing government’s position that China is also a victim of hacking, saying that there were more attacks from US-based IP addresses on Chinese websites in December than from any other country.
Despite this, it said, “China did not draw simple inferences or hasty conclusions about the attack source”.
There were attacks from 3,000 foreign IP addresses in the month, it added.
The New York Times reported  last week that hackers stole corporate passwords and accessed the personal computers of 53 employees after the newspaper published a report on the family fortune of China’s Premier Wen Jiabao.
Some security analysts said the media attacks were probably linked to the Beijing authorities, while others argued it was difficult to ascertain whether the attacks stemmed from China or if hackers acted on government orders.
Hackers from China have previously been linked to attacks on US defence giant Lockheed Martin, Google and Coca-Cola. Other reports say Chinese hackers have tried to infiltrate the Pentagon’s computers and those of US lawmakers.