Microsoft said on Friday it will stick to its development strategy for the China Internet search market regardless of the outcome of Google's high-profile spat with Beijing.

Microsoft has kept a relatively low profile in China since Google announced its decision to potentially withdraw from the market over censorship issues and following an attack on its systems that it believes originated in China. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer previously said his company had no plans to pull out of China, indicating it was unlikely to follow Google's lead in challenging a Chinese system that forces Internet firms to self censor their sites on sensitive topics. “Regardless of whether or not Google stays, we will aggressively promote our search and cloud computing (in China),” Zhang Yaqin, chairman of Microsoft's Asia-Pacific R&D Group, told Reuters on Friday on the sidelines of the opening of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Zhang added that Microsoft plans to spend about $500 million on research and development in China this year, and another $150 million on outsourced projects.

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