SPECIAL REPORT-Renault's spy scandal
China has adamantly denied any involvement in the Renault case. "We have noticed the relevant reports," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing on Jan. 11. "We think that some people saying China is behind this case is totally baseless and irresponsible. China cannot accept it."
Chinese media suggest that some in the west are simply struggling to accept the rise of Beijing's international economic and political clout. "China's growth not a result of espionage," proclaimed a headline in the Global Times, a popular tabloid run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily. "Surely, China's modernisation includes some imitation of the west," it wrote. "It is
natural for western society to feel proud and the occasional cheap shot is even understandable. However, it is ludicrous to cast China as a thief that grabs any technology it can by illegal means to try and take a shortcut to power."
Chinese automakers who spoke with Reuters say the scandal is "Renault's internal business" and that Chinese companies are capable of doing their own research and development without stealing ideas. A spokesman for automaker Changan (000625.SZ), which has partnerships with Renault's French rival PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) as well as Ford's China arm, said it is investing 4.5 percent of its annual sales in R&D and already has several of its own electric vehicle models in production. Automaker Geely (0175.HK) and others have all unveiled electric and hybrid models over the past couple of years. "I really have nothing to say on this. I'd suggest (they) strengthen their internal control so as to prevent it from happening again," says a Geely spokesman.
Security experts such as Control Risks say that proving the involvement of a state intelligence agency, whether acting through moles or by computer hacking and cyber attacks, would be difficult. Many firms face an increasing onslaught of cyber attacks, often from servers that appear to be located within China. But pinning an attack on Beijing itself is all but impossible.