China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programs to the international community.
Several nations, including U.S. allies, have reacted angrily to revelations by an ex-CIA employee over a week ago that U.S. authorities had tapped the servers of internet companies for personal data.
"We believe the United States should pay attention to the international community's concerns and demands and give the international community the necessary explanation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.
The Chinese government has previously not commented directly on the case, simply repeating the government's standard line that China is one of the world's biggest victims of hacking attacks.
A senior source with ties to the Communist Party leadership said Beijing was reluctant to jeopardize recently improved ties with Washington.
The explosive revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) spying programs were provided by Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor currently holed up in Hong Kong, a China-controlled city.
Snowden told the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's main English language newspaper, last week that Americans had spied extensively on targets in China and Hong Kong.
He said these included the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the site of an exchange which handles nearly all the city's domestic web traffic. Other alleged targets included government officials, businesses and students.
Be aware my Firefox add on tells me this is being monitored.
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