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Yahoo criticised by Alibaba for 'reckless' China stance

Yahoo china homepage
Yahoo is reported to have been targeted by hackers in China

Yahoo's partner in China has called the US internet giant "reckless" for supporting Google in its stand-off with Beijing over alleged cyber-attacks.

Yahoo said it was "aligned" with Google's position that the violation of internet privacy was deeply disturbing and something that had to be opposed.

But an Alibaba Group spokesman said on Saturday it did not "share this view".

Beijing has tried to play down Google's threat to pull out of China because of attacks by hackers and censorship.

In what correspondents say is an unusual move, the US state department said on Friday that it was to make a formal protest about the incident to China's government and demand an explanation.

'Business as usual'

Yahoo closed its offices in China several years ago when it sold much of its business there to the Alibaba Group, in which it has a 39% stake. It runs Taobao, China's largest online retailer, as well as the country's largest e-commerce site, Alibaba.com.

Alibaba Group has communicated to Yahoo that Yahoo's statement that it is 'aligned' with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence
John Spelich, Alibaba Group

On Wednesday, a Yahoo spokeswoman said it condemned "any attempts to infiltrate company networks to obtain user information". Yahoo is also reported to have been targeted by hackers in China but remained silent on the issue.

"We stand aligned that these kinds of attacks are deeply disturbing and strongly believe that the violation of user privacy is something that we as Internet pioneers must all oppose," she told the Wall Street Journal.

But on Saturday, Alibaba Group spokesman John Spelich said it had "communicated to Yahoo that Yahoo's statement that it is 'aligned' with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence".

"Alibaba doesn't share this view," he added.

A Yahoo spokeswoman later declined to say whether the company would consider selling its holdings.

Meanwhile, a Google spokeswoman denied Chinese reports that the company had already decided to shut down its google.cn site.

"It's business as usual," Jessica Powell added.

Google said on Tuesday that cyber-attacks originating in China aimed at rights activists, and increased web censorship, might force it to end its China operations.

HAVE YOUR SAY
If Google pulls out then the Chinese people will be left with only local search engines
Buzios, Portsmouth

It also said it would hold talks with the Chinese government in the coming weeks to look at operating an unfiltered search engine within the law in the country, though no changes to filtering have yet been made.

Beijing has said foreign internet firms are welcome to do business "according to the law", and insisted that the internet is "open".

When Google launched google.cn in 2006, it agreed to censor some search results - such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Tibetan independence or Falun Gong - as required by the Chinese government.

Google currently holds about one-third of the Chinese search market, far behind Chinese rival Baidu, which has more than 60%.

China has more internet users - about 350 million - than any other country and provides a lucrative search engine market worth an estimated $1bn (£614m) last year.



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