China tried to read Aust PM's mail

China has repeatedly tried to infiltrate Australian government emails, Australian intelligence services have alleged in the latest spying claim against China.

Intelligence sources also allege that the Chinese government tried to spy on prime minister Kevin Rudd's mobile phone communications and email when he visited China last August, the Australian newspaper said

Chinese spies have made repeated attempts to break into Australian government and business IT networks because of its strong political and economic ties to the US, the sources told the paper.

The Australian government has declined to comment on the claims, but government sources said the country's national security agencies consider China's activities to be a vital concern.

The agencies have spent millions to bolster the security of Australian government networks, the sources said.

The Australian report comes a week after security officials uncovered  a vast China-based spy network, dubbed GhostNet. The network had infiltrated 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including Asean, a number of foreign affairs ministries and embassies and the office of the Dalai Lama.

In 2007 western intelligence agencies said Chinese-based hackers were aggressively targeting European and North American government computers.

Chinese government officials have denied the claims.