Beijing: State-owned China Telecom on Thursday rejected US claims that its servers "hijacked" highly sensitive Internet traffic on American government and military websites earlier this year.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a report to Congress on Wednesday that the Chinese firm re-routed email traffic to and from websites of the US Senate, the Department of Defense, and "many others" including the national space agency NASA for 18 minutes on April 8.
The rerouting began at a smaller Chinese Internet service provider called IDC China Telecommunication before being propagated by China Telecom, the commission`s report said.
However the listed arm of China Telecom, one of the country`s major telecommunications operators, said in a statement that the company "denied any hijack of Internet traffic".
The US report said that some 15 percent of the Internet`s entire traffic was routed through Chinese servers during the brief period.
"What could you do if you had the stream of email traffic for 18 minutes" to and from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked commissioner Larry Wortzel on Wednesday.
"Most importantly you would get the Internet addresses of everybody that communicated" and be able to engineer an address to plant a virus, he said.
China`s capacity to launch cyber attacks on US commercial interests was also highlighted this year when Internet giant Google said it had become the target of a series of sophisticated cyber attacks there.
The search engine giant rerouted mainland users to its site in Hong Kong and threatened to completely shutter its operations in China.