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Gates defends doing business in China

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Friday defended U.S. tech companies, including his own, who do business in China even when they are required to agree to censorship to do so.

The Internet "is contributing to Chinese political engagement" as "access to the outside world is preventing more censorship," he was quoted as saying in an article in The Times Online.

Debate on the topic was prompted by Google's launch on Tuesday of a censored search site in China, for which it has been widely criticized. However, the company isn't alone in acquiescing to Chinese authorities--Yahoo and Microsoft have also done it.

Gates argued that despite the fact that China censors the Internet, freedom of information is still available there.

"I do think information flow is happening in China...saying that even by existing there contributions to a national dialogue have taken place," he told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "There's no doubt in my mind that's been a huge plus."