Google v China row returns
The acrimonious relationship between China and Google has returned to the headlines, this time over a hacking scandal.
Google said last week that its cloud-based email service, Gmail, had been the subject of a sophisticated digital attack.
Hackers had apparently attempted to gain access to the email accounts of high-profile figures in the US. The source of the attack was traced back to Jinan in China's Shandong province.
While Google did not directly accuse China's ruling Communist Party of having a hand in the attack, it would appear to have opened some old wounds.
The Chinese government last night branded Google a political tool and accused the company of seeking to disrupt Sino-US relations.
An editorial published by the state-owned People's Daily newspaper said Google's statement last week had "sinister intentions" and was "thickly tainted with political colours".
"What was once a model of leading internet innovation has now become a political tool for slandering other countries," the article went on. "Once the international winds change… Google might become a political sacrifice and might be discarded by the market."
Google has previously clashed with the Chinese government over censorship requirements. After protracted negotiations last year, Google was forced to officially withdraw from China.
China has the world's fastest growing economy and also the world's fastest growing online population.
As relations between Google and the Chinese government remain sour, Baidu, China's leading search engine provider, is well-placed to benefit.
According to Alexa.com, a provider of online intelligence, Baidu is the world's sixth most popular website.