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Google's China Chief Sees Internet Boom

Strong investor interest and growing numbers of info-tech graduates ensure a bright future for new mainland Internet companies

If US internet companies are maturing, China's are still reveling in the kind of party atmosphere their US rivals enjoyed during the late 1990s, with copious capital and enough engineering talent to keep growing for a while.

Executives including Kai-Fu Lee, president of Google Greater China, warned participants in an industry conference in Beijing this week against a get-rich-quick mentality.

But the executives said that between strong investor interest and an education system churning out information technology graduates by the thousand, the groundwork is solid for years of continued steady growth in China.

"For many Chinese young people and young students, they have a very strong desire for innovation, for being successful, for starting their own businesses," said Lee.

About 300,000 students receive high-tech degrees in China annually, said Zhang Ya-Qin, chief executive of Microsoft in China and its research development group. But he said Chinese graduates need more curiosity and more ideas.

Pony Ma, whose QQ system dominates the Chinese market for instant messaging, said China's internet and mobile information industries are just getting off the ground, leaving plenty of room for growth in the more traditional web fields.

Most of the internet businesses developing in China are likely to cater to local interests and local online needs, which remain largely unmet, the executives said.

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