Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Wednesday, 12 April 2006 14:42 UK

Google launches Chinese service

Google's new logo in China
Google's move into China attracted a lot of criticism

Google has launched its Chinese service with bullish growth forecasts and a robust defence of its decision to limit user access to certain internet sites.

Chief executive Eric Schmidt said that sales growth "will obviously be large" and Google expects to have thousands of software engineers working in China.

He also said that Google had no choice but to accept restrictions if it wanted access to China's internet market.

The number of internet users in China is set to top 187 million in two years.

'Right decision'

Mr Schmidt was speaking as Google unveiled the name of its Chinese service, which is "Gu Ge" or "Valley Song".

The search engine firm has offered a Chinese language service for a number of years, but "Gu Ge" is a new venture.

Internet users in China
More than 100 million people are currently online in China

Google was criticised earlier this year when it agreed to adhere to Chinese government censorship rules in order to launch its new site.

"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," Mr Schmidt said.

The company has argued that it would be more damaging for civil liberties if it pulled out of China entirely.

"We believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one," he said.

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

Google also unveiled plans to create a research centre in Beijing that should employ 150 workers by the middle of this year.

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