Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was interviewed on America's CNBC new network last night after a meeting with President Obama and a virtual Who's Who of tech company bosses.
Following revelations that Google is considering pulling out of China after it was discovered that it had been the victim of a suspiciously sophisticated cyber-attack, Ballmer clarified Microsoft's position.
"Cyber attacks are an unfortunate way off life not only in China but outside China on a global basis. I think you can almost separate that from the other issues which are more China specific. You have to decide what approach to take. Certainly, if you're going to operate in China you have to abide by the laws of China just like people do here in the United States. We've been quite clear that we're going to operate in China and abide by the law.
Ballmer also pointed out that Microsoft and other western tech companies faced an uphill struggle when it comes to turning a buck in the East
"Intellectual property protection in China is very, very bad. Abysmal. It's almost not fair. We buy a lot of goods from China, but the things that US companies can sell - pharmaceuticals, media, software - it's all intelectual property and design. And that stuff's not getting paid for in China. China's now the second biggest market in the world and that's gotta change."
Responding reports from insecurity outfit Macafee that the Google attack was made possible by a security flaw in Internet Explorer, Ballmer said: "I know the report exists and I know we have a great team of people that responds 'real time'. Cyber attacks and the occasional vulnerability are a way of life and we'll work through it with all of the important parties."