BEIJING — Contacts told U.S. diplomats that hacking attacks against Google were ordered by China’s top ruling body and a senior leader demanded action after finding search results critical of him, leaked U.S. government memos show.<br /><br />

One memo sent by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to Washington said that a “well-placed contact,” who was not identified, told diplomats the Chinese government coordinated the attacks late last year on Google Inc. under the direction of the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of Communist Party power.<br /><br />

The details of the memos, known in diplomatic parlance as a cable, could not be verified. Chinese government departments either refused to comment or could not be reached. But if true, the cables show the political pressures facing Google when it decided to close its China-based search engine in March.

The cable about the attacks on Google, which was classified as secret by Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Goldberg, was released by WikiLeaks to The New York Times and The Guardian newspapers.

The Times said the cable, dated early this year, quoted the contact as saying that propaganda chief Li Changchun, the fifth-ranked official in the country, and top security official Zhou Yongkang, oversaw the hacking of Google. Both are Politburo Standing Committee members.

The cable notes that it is unclear if Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were aware of these reported actions before Google went public about the attacks in January.

The Times, however, said doubts about the allegation have arisen after the paper interviewed the person cited in the cable, who denied knowing who directed the hacking attacks on Google.