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Google Unveils Chinese Brand

The search engine defends its compliance with the government's censorship laws that block some links to sensitive material.

April 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

BEIJING — Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt on Wednesday defended the search engine's cooperation with Chinese censorship as he announced the creation of a Beijing research center and unveiled a Chinese-language brand name.

Google is trying to raise its profile in China after waiting until January to launch its Chinese-language site Google.cn. Activists have criticized the company for blocking searches for material about Taiwan, Tibet, democracy and other sensitive issues on the site.

"We believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one," Schmidt said at a news conference.

He said Google had to accept restrictions to serve China, which has the world's second-largest population of Internet users after the United States, with more than 111 million people online.

Schmidt also announced the creation of a research center in Beijing that he said should have 150 employees by mid-2006 and "eventually thousands of people."

He said the center was meant to create products for markets worldwide, though he said planning was still in such an early stage that he didn't know what they might be.

Schmidt was speaking at a ceremony to announce Google's Chinese-language brand name -- Gu Ge, or Valley Song, which the company says draws on Chinese rural traditions to describe a fruitful and rewarding experience.

Talking to reporters later, Schmidt said Google's managers were stung by criticism that they had accepted Chinese censorship, but he said they hadn't lobbied Beijing to change its rules.

"I think it's arrogant for us to walk into a country where we are just beginning to operate and tell that country how to operate," he said.

Asked whether Google might try to persuade Beijing to change its restrictions, Schmidt said he didn't rule anything out, but said Google hadn't tried to change such limits elsewhere. He noted that Google's site in Germany was barred from linking to Nazi-oriented material.

"There are many cases where certain information is not available due to local law or local custom," he said.

Schmidt said China accounted for only a small portion of Google's revenue because the company had only recently obtained a license to allow it to carry local advertising. But he said the company expected China to be an important part of its future business.

One possible Google project in China would be to make Chinese books available online in digital form or to use translation software to produce English-language editions, Schmidt said.

Separately, Google said Wednesday that it was unveiling a calendar service that allows users to store appointments online, receive reminders about them and share those plans with others.

The offering, available starting today, is designed to make it easy for users to add entries, said Carl Sjogreen, product manager for Google Calendar.

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