China on Tuesday rejected a news report that U.S. investigators have traced hacking attacks against Google Inc. to two Chinese schools and said suggestions the government might be involved were irresponsible.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, said Chinese law prohibits hacking and the government will take steps to stop it.

Ma rejected a report by The New York Times last week that investigators traced hacking attacks on Google to Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School in China.

"Reports that these attacks came from Chinese schools are groundless, and accusations of Chinese government involvement are irresponsible and out of ulterior motives," Ma said at a regular news briefing.

Google cited the hacking attacks in a Jan. 12 announcement that said it would no longer cooperate with Chinese government censorship of the Internet and might close its China operation. The search company said attackers stole some of its computer code and tried to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists who focus on China.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed in January for China to investigate Google's complaints but Beijing has given no indication it is doing so.

The government's Xinhua News Agency earlier quoted spokespeople for the university and vocational school as denying the attacks originated at their schools.