Microsoft's Ballmer: We’re staying in China

But the CEO lashes out at China's lack of intellectual property protection

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the company is staying in China even though rival Google is talking about pulling out following a cyber attack on its systems.

"We have been quite clear we are going to operate in China and we are going to abide by the law," Ballmer told CNBC in an interview after meeting with President Obama and 50 other top CEOs to discuss how technology can help cut government costs.

"But we are going to continue to make the same content available outside of China no matter what happens inside China as long as we get legitimate requests documented by the Chinese government which we can explain to our customers," he said.

Google has been in China since 2006 operating under an agreement with the government that has the search giant purge banned topics from its Chinese search results. But the recent attack has Google saying it will no longer censor results per Chinese law and the company is threatening to pull out of the country altogether.

In the interview, Ballmer also lashed out at China's lack of intellectual property protection, saying it is so bad that it is nearly unfair for U.S. companies to compete in China.

During the interview, Ballmer also was asked about emerging reports that a vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer played a central role in the Google attacks.

While Microsoft has now confirmed those reports are true and issued a security advisory, Ballmer was just digesting the possibility Microsoft software was involved.

"I know the report and I know we have a great team of people who respond real time," he said. "Cyber attacks and occasional vulnerabilities are a way of life, if the issue is with us, of course, we'll work through it with all of the important parties."

The discovery of the vulnerability, which affects Microsoft's newest software – IE 8 running on Windows 7 among other configurations – comes just two days after Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday cycle, which included but a single patch.

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John Fontana

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