CEO plays cool as Google search function blocked in China

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Google CEO Eric Schmidt downplayed fears over the web giant's position in China Thursday, amid a row over censorship and the blocking of a search feature there.

Schmidt said he had not spoken with the firm all day but told a conference in London: "I want to be clear. The Chinese government has the arbitrary ruling to shut Google down... So far they have not done so."

Google says it had yet to receive a response from the government in China -- the world's largest Internet market -- on its application to renew its Internet Content Provider licence, which expired on Wednesday.

On that day, Google said search queries produced by its Google Suggest function appeared to be blocked for mainland users in China, but that normal searches that do not use query suggestions were unaffected.

Google Suggest provides a user with suggested words as they type a query into the Google search box.

© 2010 AFP

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