Google Inc chief executive Eric Schmidt said on Thursday he is confident the company will secure a licence to operate a website in China, amid speculation Beijing will reject its application. “We would expect we would get the necessary licence,” said Schmidt, adding, “We now expect to get renewal.” Google unexpectedly warned in January it might quit the world's largest Internet market, saying it will not provide the censored search results that China requires.

In March, it began to redirect visitors on its Chinese website to a site in Hong Kong that provided uncensored results. Google now has an application with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which reviews Internet Content Provider licenses but has called the application “late.” An outright rejection could spell trouble for Google's other non-search businesses in the country. Schmidt's comments come halfway through what has been a tumultuous year for the company, as the world's No. 1 search leader deepened its rivalry with iPhone-maker Apple and social network Facebook.

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