A section of the website for China's state-run Xinhua news agency was found to be distributing malware last month, according to a Google malware scanning service that is still labeling the site as potentially harmful.

The "news centre" section of the Xinhua's website, which displays a feed of the agency's stories, was found to have one scripting exploit and one Trojan on it during a scan, according to a Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page. No suspicious content was found on the site during a scan about ten days later, but the section of Xinhua's website is still being labeled potentially harmful in Google search results.

The Google notice has appeared on Xinhua's website before, said a manager at Xinhua, who was reached by phone and refused to give his name. But the agency has checked its website and it has no problems, he said.

Various factors can cause a website to distribute malware, including third party attackers who add malicious code to a site without permission. Hackers tampered with nearly 2,800 Chinese government websites last year, according to a government watchdog.

A malware warning also appeared in Google search results last year for part of the website of the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of China's Communist Party. Local media cited a representative of the site blaming Google for the message and accusing the company of "vile behaviour." Google called the accusations wrong and said its scanners are highly accurate. The warnings appear next to search results that are found appearing to distribute malware.

China is not the only country where the websites of government-linked organisations are hit with malware. Three websites belonging to the US Department of the Treasury were hacked recently to attack visitors with malware.