China is throwing its weight behind an international anti-spam coalition of government agencies and private sector organizations to combat unwanted e-mail messages.

The country announced its intention to join the U.S.- and U.K.-led London Action Plan on Spam Enforcement Collaboration, a group of 29 governmental agencies and 17 private sector groups promoting information sharing and evidence exchange.

"The (Federal Trade Commission) welcomes the Chinese agency's participation in this project,'' said Hugh Stevenson, the FTC's associate director for international consumer protection. ''Spam is recognized as a problem with a great international dimension and this is part of the international solution.''

Representing China's interests in the endeavor is Union Network Beijing, a group mandated by the Chinese government to enforce its recent anti-spam law and combat the spread of computer viruses.

Anti-spam organization SpamHaus lists China as the second-largest originator of spam in the world, though it lags far behind the U.S. in terms of number of current spam issues. According to the latest numbers by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the Asian country has nearly 100 million Internet users, 42.8 million of them using a broadband connection.

The country also has a zombie problem, leading the rest of the world in infected computers used as launching pads for spam campaigns and other fraudulent activities, according to an April report by security vendor CipherTrust. The company found that 20 percent of newly discovered zombied computers reside in China, well ahead of the 16 percent in the U.S. and 10 percent in South Korea.

Alun Michael, e-commerce minister for the U.K., said London Action Plan members have been keen on bringing China into the fold and hopes other countries will follow.

''During our presidency of the [European Union] and beyond, we will continue to intensify our activities with Chinese and other partners to address spam and viruses, and therefore contribute to the continued development and safety of the global information society,'' Michael said in a statement.

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