Apple, Facebook find something to praise China for amid internet clamp

China´s World Internet Conference attracted the heads of Google and Apple for the first time to hear China vow to open up its internet - just as long as it can guard cyberspace in the same way it guards its borders.

Pichai was on a panel on Sunday, where he pointed out how Google was still relevant to Chinese businesses, despite the fact that it pulled out of China in 2010 following the government's moves to censor YouTube videos and Google search queries.

Tencent Holdings, China's biggest social network and gaming company, was a great partner, Cook said, adding that he thought very highly of its founder, Pony Ma.

The conference was also addressed by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Like Apple, he hinted at how Google helps the economy in China.

After the ban, Google subsequently shifted its operations to Hong Kong. The "messaging apps and virtual private network (VPN) services ... help [ed] users subvert China's Great Firewall".

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However, In recent months, Apple has faced criticism from local users and rights groups for bowing to pressure from Beijing cyberregulators after it chose to remove hundreds of apps from its Chinese store, including Skype.

Pichai's attendance at the state sponsored internet meeting came after China recently lifted the ban on Google translation services. "I have great hope on that and great optimism on that". Both Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai have been criticized by Western media for attending the annual gathering, helping to give credibility to an event which China uses to promote its own vision of a policed internet.

"I´d compliment the Chinese government in terms of leadership on using data", Facebook Vice President Vaughan Smith said on Tuesday, citing government bodies such as the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

"China's experience suggests that both factors are crucial to a sound development of the internet that aims to serve the fundamental interests of the people", Xu Yunhong, an official from the academy, told a news conference in Wuzhen.

The Apple chief executive's presence indicates the importance of the Chinese market for the iPhone maker, even though Apple's market share of China's smartphone market is shrinking.

Xi said that online developments were raising many new challenges to sovereignty and security, and China was "willing to work with the global community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and promote partnerships".

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