China rejected on Tuesday an accusation that it was connected with a suspected case of industrial espionage at French carmaker Renault.

The scandal has rocked France’s industrial sector, with a French legislator saying last week that there were indications of Chinese involvement.

“We have taken note of the relevant report. As for the so-called story that China is involved, we believe this is totally groundless, irresponsible and unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, told a regular news conference.

On Friday, French lawmaker Bernard Carayon, an expert on industrial espionage, said “proven, diverse and reliable” sources pointed to an effort to obtain secrets from three Renault executives suspended by the automaker this week.

“There are in effect several sources that are typically thought to be serious who consider that a Chinese buyer is in fact behind this operation,” Mr. Carayon, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party, said on France-Info radio.

Renault has said it plans to take legal action in a case it has described as serious acts by executives with extremely strategic positions in the company.

French Industry Minister Eric Besson said last week that the case appeared to involve Renault’s development of an electric car.

Renault and its alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. of Japan have invested $4 billion to develop electric cars. The first of them, Nissan’s Leaf, was recently launched in the United States and Japan.


Nissan rolls out Leaf electric car in Japan December 3, 2010