The United States risks its own security by refusing to trust even its own friends and spying on its allies, Xinhua said yesterday, likening it to a "Peeping Tom".
The English-language commentary, peppered with colourful language, came as the spying row that has soured US-Europe relations spread in Asia, with Indonesia summoning the Australian ambassador in Jakarta over a report his embassy was part of a US-led spying network.
"The sole superpower's spying saga is spicy on a heart-attack scale. It is particularly hurtful to those supposed to trust America the most - its allies," Xinhua said in the commentary.
"Ironically enough, the bugging undermines the very thing it is supposed to protect - national security," Xinhua wrote.
US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to calm the row yesterday by admitting that spying had sometimes gone too far and by offering assurances that such steps would not be repeated.
"I assure you, innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there's an effort to try to gather information," Kerry told a London conference via video link. "And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far, inappropriately."
Xinhua said that the US prevarication about the spying accusations was deeply hypocritical, especially considering the allegations about hacking thrown Beijing's way by Washington. "Uncle Sam needs to remember what happened to the tailor in the Lady Godiva story - Peeping Tom was struck blind," it said.
The latest row erupted in the region after the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, amplifying an earlier story by German magazine Der Spiegel, this week reported that a top-secret map leaked by fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden showed 90 US surveillance facilities at diplomatic missions worldwide.
Its reports focused on secret US intelligence facilities in Asia and also said Australian diplomatic posts were being used to monitor phone calls and collect data as part of the American surveillance effort.
Indonesia has so far been the most vocal nation in Asia over the reported spying. Yesterday, Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jakarta over the allegations.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa described the reported spying activities as "just not cricket".
Beijing responded to the reports on Thursday by expressing "severe concerns".
"We require the US to make a clarification and give an explanation," said spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying .
Reuters, Agence France-Presse