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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 13:04 GMT
Google defends China search site
Internet users in China
More than 100 million people are online in China
Google has denied accusations that its new Chinese-language search engine is operating without a licence.

It follows a report in the Beijing News that Google did not have the correct paperwork for its China site.

The web giant has rejected the allegation, saying it was operating under the licence of its business partner,

Google's China service blocks politically sensitive material to comply with Chinese censorship rules.

Local partner

The Chinese government enforces strict laws on internet use, blocking content it considers a threat, including references to the Tiananmen Square massacre and notable dissidents.

Google has a partnership with through which Google has the required licence to operate
Debbie Frost, Google, launched last month, complies with these guidelines.

But Chinese newspapers have accused Google of not having the Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence needed to operate in China.

The Beijing News said that the situation had "attracted the attention" of Chinese regulators.

A Google spokeswoman denied the reports, saying it was operating under the licence of its local partner.

"Google has a partnership with through which Google has the required licence to operate," said Google spokeswoman Debbie Frost.

Other foreign technology companies such as eBay and Yahoo also operate in China using the licences of their local partners.

'Uninvited guest'

Google's policy of telling users which pages are censored has also drawn the wrath of some newspapers.

"Does a business operating in China need to constantly tell customers that it's abiding by the laws of the land?" asked the China Business Times, comparing Google to an uninvited guest.

Google, together with other major technology firms, has also come under fire in the US for helping China censor the internet.

Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus said four US firms were putting profits before American principles of free speech.

Technology companies have defended their actions in China, saying they have to comply with local laws.

The firms are keen to gain a foothold in China's fast-growing internet industry, with more than 100 million people online.

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