Steve Ballmer enters China censorship debate

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Steve Ballmer enters China censorship debate

Defends company's position.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has issued a statement defending his company's business practices in China.

Ballmer claimed in a blog post that the company is working to promote online freedom, but will comply with local laws.

"Microsoft is committed to protecting and advancing free expression throughout the world, even as we work to comply with local laws in the 100-plus countries in which we operate," he wrote.

"In many countries throughout the world, internet and technology companies must comply with laws that impact privacy and freedom of expression, particularly peaceful political expression."

The posting adds to the debate stemming from Google's recent threat to cut its operations in China over censorship concerns. The decision has shifted public attention to other companies doing business in the country, particularly Microsoft.

Ballmer maintained that Microsoft is also pushing for internet freedom through its involvement with the Global Network Initiative, but believes that doing business in China means respecting its laws.

"Engagement in China and around the world is very important to us, in part because we believe it accelerates access to 21st century technology and services and helps provide the widest possible range of ideas and information," Ballmer wrote.

"We have done business in China for more than 20 years and we intend to stay engaged, which means our business must respect the laws of China."

Ballmer's posting comes in the wake of comments by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on US television, in which he defended the company's practices and described censorship in China as "limited".

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