Google CEO: Tech silence in China spat no shock

A photo of the Google Inc. logo is shown on a computer screen in San Francisco, California July 16, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google Inc has not been surprised at the lack of public support in Silicon Valley as it faces off with China over hacking and censorship, the company’s chief executive Eric Schmidt said on Sunday.

“It has gone as we expected,” said Schmidt at a meeting of the American Society of News Editors.

“Google is an unusual company,” said Schmidt, adding that other tech firms in Silicon Valley probably had a range of opinions about Google’s decision to publicly report hacking attacks, and opting to end its censorship of its Chinese service.

“We were able to make a decision based on principle,” he said, adding that he was unsure what the end result would be.

“It is a battle,” he said. “We know that there is a reasonably large group of people in China who are seeking non-censored information.”

Google said on March 22 it would pull its Chinese-language search services out of China, also citing a hacking attack late in 2009 that it said originated from China.

Google ended its censorship of Chinese search results last month. Search inquiries from mainland China have since been sent to servers in Hong Kong, and have been at least intermittently censored by Beijing, Google has said.

Google -- the world’s No. 1 Internet search provider and No. 2 in China behind local search powerhouse Baidu Inc -- has said it intends to retain some business operations in China, including research and development staff and a sales team.

Editing by Lincoln Feast