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Google co-founder: Maybe we'll stay in China after all

Brin Preaches to the unconverted

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A month after storming the moral high-ground over China's hacking activities, Sergey Brin has declared the firm is happy to get off its high horse and kick its heels in the country a little longer.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the TED conference last week he hopes the search giant can sort out its differences with China, in order that Google.cn can continue operating in that region.

“I want to find a way to work within the Chinese system to bring information to the people,” said Brin, in an interview at the annual TED conference last Friday in Long Beach, California.

“Perhaps we won’t succeed immediately, but maybe in a year or two.”

Brin's comment, reported by the New York Times and elsewhere, was his first public statement about the hacking attacks that hit the company late last year. Since when Google has threatened to withdraw its search engine biz from the People's Republic.

In January Google outed the December attacks that hit 34 corporate firms, by saying they originated in China. Mountain View threatened to leave the country if it couldn't reach an agreement with the Chinese government to stop censoring results on its local search engine.

According to Google, "a primary goal" of the the attackers was to access the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Google said at the time that attacks on two Gmail accounts were largely unsuccessful, but that a subsequent investigation showed that the accounts of dozens of activists in the US, China, and Europe "have been routinely accessed by third parties."

However, Chinese government officials have given no signals that they intend to come to any agreement with Google and back down from censoring or blocking certain websites in the country.

On Friday Brin took a swipe at the other corporations that were caught up in the December hack attacks.

“If other companies were to come forward, I think we’d all be safer,” he said.

Brin also claimed that Google's missionary-like presence in the Chinese search market had forced its rivals - presumably Baidu and chums - to cut back on censorship of websites in China. ®

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