Just days before negotiations are due to begin between Google and China about the Internet giant's fate in China, the dispute between the two sees no sign of ceasing.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told the first press briefing after the country's Lunar New Year that a US news report claiming two Chinese schools were involved in the Google cyber-attack was "groundless".
A report by the New York Times last week said that investigators traced hacking attacks on Google to Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School in Shandong province. The two establishments have denied their involvement.
"Reports that these attacks came from Chinese schools are groundless, and accusations of Chinese government involvement are irresponsible and have ulterior motives," Qin Gang, the foreign ministry spokesman said at the news briefing yesterday.
In a Jan 12 announcement Google said the hackers stole some of its computer code and tried to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists who focus on China.
It said it would not cooperate with the Chinese government's censorship of the Internet and might close its China operation.
The dispute has been simmering for more than a month with the US government adding its weight behind Google. Meanwhile Google is still operating in the Chinese market.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday Google representatives are scheduled to resume discussions in the coming days with Chinese officials about the fate of Google's China business, but the schedule and the status of the talks, which are being picked up after a break for the Chinese New Year holiday, are unclear.
Google acknowledged it might have to shut down its Chinese search engine, Google.cn and its offices in the country.
However, some US politicians hold different opinions to the government and Google.
Last month, Iowa lawmaker Greg Cusack wrote to the Shanghai Daily, an English newspaper based in Shanghai, refuting US accusations about China's Internet freedom.
"I regret that my country has, once again, fallen into the old habit of "lecturing to China", he said. "Does not your citizenry and your government have a reasonable interest, indeed, responsibility, in seeing to it that the Internet furthers civility rather than erodes it? Enriches young minds rather than poisoning them?" Cusack wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile. Cusack apologized for US lecturing on China and said "China does not need to repeat our mistakes" that "all sorts of garbage (not just pornography, but so-called games of excessive violence, and political charges and counter-charges without any supporting facts) fills our media, including the Internet."
Southern Daily cited a Russian report that suggested some experts in the US believe China was not involved with the alleged attacks but was taken advantage of and used as cover by an unamed third country.
Google has also become the focus of a debate on privacy protection since it teamed up with the US National Security Administration (NSA) for its ongoing investigation into the cyber-attacks.
Last week Fox News described the NSA as the "ultra-secretive agency" better known for "tapping phones, than patching security holes for private companies", and said since the 9/11 attacks, the NSA has used its power to violate American citizens' privacy to track terrorists overseas.