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China Telecom Denies Hijack of Web Traffic After U.S. Report

China Telecom Corp., the nation’s biggest fixed-line phone carrier, denied it hijacked Internet traffic, after a U.S. government report said the company wrongly diverted international Web data.

“The spokesman of China Telecom Corporation Ltd. denied any hijack of Internet traffic,” the state-owned company said in an e-mailed statement today. The Beijing-based carrier didn’t elaborate.

China Telecom sent erroneous Internet-traffic instructions that briefly diverted about 15 percent of global Web traffic through servers in China, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a report yesterday. The incident, which lasted about 18 minutes on April 8, affected U.S. military and government sites, as well as sites run by companies including Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp., the report said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei declined to comment at a regular briefing in Beijing today beyond saying the “relevant company has already made a response on that matter.”

The commission, created in 2000 to advise Congress about national security implications of U.S. relations with China, said that “perhaps most disconcertingly” the diverted data might “possibly allow a telecommunications firm to compromise the integrity of supposedly secure encrypted sessions.”

China Telecom had 178.3 million fixed-line subscribers at the end of September, almost 80 percent more than closest rival China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd.

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