Google China Chief Leaving

The mastermind of Google's Chinese expansion is reportedly quitting the company.
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) -- The president of


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China operation is resigning from the search giant, which is looking to boost its presence in the booming Chinese market.

Kai Fu-Lee, whose profile was still on the Google corporate Web site Friday, is leaving to work on his own venture, according to

The Wall Street Journal

, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Google will appoint two of its own executives to fill Lee's role,

The Journal

said, highlighting the importance of China to the company's future revenue.

A Chinese government report released in July says that country has the world's most Internet users, and there is still plenty of room for growth. The survey by the China Internet Network Information Center reported that the country now has 338 million Internet users, up 13.4% from the end of 2008. With a total population of over 1.3 billion, however, China is seen as a massive untapped market by U.S. firms such as Google and


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, although the Asian powerhouse poses a unique set of challenges.

Google, for example, has had to contend with government censorship issues, as well as the dominance of local search giant


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Lee, who is a former


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executive and assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, joined Google in 2005 to develop the company's Chinese business and was later appointed president of its greater China operation.

Shares of Google, which outlined its plans for



earlier this week, dipped 67 cents, or 0.15%, to $456.85 Friday, despite a modest advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq rise 0.16%.