Beijing, Dec 12: The website of the French embassy in Beijing has apparently come under a cyber-attack after President Nicolas Sarkozy outraged China by meeting Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The cyber-attack is believed to have taken the form of mass attempts to access the site simultaneously, largely at night, disabling the system.
The Telegraph quoted a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman as rejecting any suggestion that the Chinese government might approve of the cyber-attack, which made the embassy's website inaccessible for several days. "From the perspective of the Chinese government, China is against the hacking of the websites of the embassies of other nations," its spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said.
"We have not seen any questions or concerns raised by France."
France has gone into diplomatic overdrive since the meeting to soothe China's hurt feelings.
Sarkozy called China "one of the greats of the world" on Monday, Dec 8 and stressed he supported 'one China'.
On Tuesday, Dec 9, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said: "We did not want to cause offence to China, to the Chinese people or to Chinese leaders."
There are numerous informal hacking groups in China, some of which are believed to operate for nationalistic purposes, including attempts to access Pentagon and European defence ministry websites.
Their relationship to the authorities and the People's Liberation Army is unclear, though the government hotly denies any links.
In the wake of the Sarkozy-Dalai Lama meeting in Poland last week, French businesses fear informal boycotts of French goods, even if there is no further formal retaliation by the government.
Similar boycotts after attacks on the Beijing Olympic Torch in France by pro-Tibet demonstrators in April, though, had limited effect.
Chinese state newspapers have run lengthy attacks on the Dalai Lama and in support of its own record in Tibet in recent days.
Liu also made clear that France was not yet forgiven.
"We don't think the explanation is valid or is going to solve the current difficulties. The French side should be well aware of the severity of the current situation, take seriously China's concerns and take concrete measures to make conditions for the healthy development of China-France relations," he said in response to Kouchner's comments.