statedepartmentlogoThe U.S. State Department told reporters today that it will deliver a formal statement to the Chinese government in the next few days, denouncing a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” through which the Gmail accounts of Chinese political activists were tapped. (For a detailed run-down of how the attack worked, see security software maker McAfee’s blog post.)

Google already threatened on Tuesday to pull out of China in response to the attack, which occurred last month. That would mean closing its offices there and shutting down the website. A new Bloomberg report says Google executives tried unsuccessfully in December to get the heads of other companies to side with Google in calling attention to the attacks. One fund manager told Bloomberg, “The reluctance of companies to join Google in its initial announcement illustrates the pressure on them to protect their business in China, the world’s third largest economy.”

Now, the U.S. government has gotten involved. Reuters reports that an unnamed senior diplomat met with a Chinese diplomat on Thursday. In the next few days, the U.S. will deliver a démarche — a formal diplomatic communication from one country to another — expressing America’s disapproval of the break-ins.

A State Department spokesman said at a press conference this morning, “It will express our concern for this incident and request information from China as to an explanation of how it happened and what they plan to do about it.”

Separately, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Bloomberg on Thursday that exiting China is “not something we’re thinking about” at Microsoft.

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