Coca-Cola was accused of “illegally collecting classifiedinformation with handheld GPS equipment”, the YunnanGeographical Information Bureau of Surveying and Mapping said.Coca-Cola said its local bottling plants have used electronicmapping and related methods to run its operations in the countrymore efficiently.”Over the last several years, some of our local bottling plantsin China have adopted logistics solutions to improve our customerservice levels and fuel efficiency,” a Coca-Cola spokespersonin China told AFP in a statement.”These include e-map and location-based customer logisticssystems that are commercially available in China through authorizedlocal suppliers.”The company said it had “cooperated fully” with Yunnangovernment inquiries and is “in full compliance” withcurrent regulations.No further details on the investigation were forthcoming, but abureau official who gave his last name as Han told the FinancialTimes the investigation would wrap up soon.”We will announce the results when it ends,” Han said.”It is a bit sensitive. I don’t know how it got published,”he added.An expert with the China Academy of Space Technology told theGlobal Times on condition of anonymity that entering a restrictedarea with a handheld GPS device could be considered a threat tonational security.”Some regions could be sensitive because of their militaryimportance,” the expert said. “If an unauthorized person ororganization accurately mapped the area and used the result forpolitical purposes, it could jeopardize our nation.”Yunnan authorities said the Coca-Cola incident was one of 21 casesof illegal surveying currently being investigated in the area.Other instances included the illegal sale of classified militarymaps online, aerial photography by unmanned aircraft, and illegallysurveying military installations.Li Mingde, the deputy director of the province’s bureau conductingthe probe into Coke, told China National Radio it was important topunish cases of illegal mapping.“Some people are profiting from collecting information,including providing it to some foreign intelligence agencies,”FT cites him as saying.Mingde noted that when the United States bombed its embassy inBelgrade in 1999, the US blamed it on an inaccurate map. “Mapping information can be used by enemies. So it must berestricted,” he said.The allegations leveled at Coke come amidst a developing disputebetween China and the United States over cyber-attacks.On Monday, President Obama’s national security adviser Tom Donilonurged China to stop hackers within its borders from engaging inindustrial espionage and breaking into US computer systems.”Increasingly, US businesses are speaking out about theirserious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft ofconfidential business information… through cyber-intrusionsemanating from China at a very large scale,” Donilon said.“Beijing should take serious steps to investigate and put a stopto these activities,” he continued.In February, US lawmakers called for stricter action against Chinafor cyber-spying and industrial espionage allegedly being directedby the Chinese military.On Saturday China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi China’s ForeignMinister Yang Jiechi characterized the hacking allegations as apolitically motivated smear campaign.“Anyone who tries to fabricate or piece together a sensationalstory to serve their political motive will not be able to blackenthe name of others or whitewash themselves,” he said.Jiechi said that as a primary target of hacking attacks, Chinasupported international regulations under the auspices of theUnited Nations to help police the Internet.
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