China denies cyber attacks on US election campaigns

Microsoft said it had parried cyber attacks from overseas groups against both the Republican and Democratic campaigns. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing on Friday (Sept 11) denied trying to meddle in the United States presidential election after American tech giant Microsoft said it had parried cyber attacks from overseas groups - including from China - against both the Republican and Democratic campaigns.

Microsoft warned it had detected attempts at election interference from overseas, including Russia, Iran and the China-based "Zirconium", which targeted people linked to Democratic candidate Joe Biden's campaign.

But China batted away the allegation, accusing Microsoft of "fabrication" and "creating trouble".

"The US presidential election is the US' internal affair," said Mr Zhao Lijian, spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry.

"We have no interest to interfere in it, and we never interfered in it."

China and the US are trapped in a sprawling power struggle reaching into trade, the origins of the coronavirus, defence ambitions and tech security.

Washington has called out Chinese tech firms - from Huawei to TikTok - as state actors working for the Communist Party of China, claims Beijing and the companies vehemently deny.

Mr Zhao returned fire on Friday, warning that the world should instead be on "high alert" for American tech companies "installing back doors" and harvesting personal data for security services.

With the US presidential election two months away, Twitter, Google and Facebook have all said they are reinforcing protections to curb the spread of misinformation.

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