Google (GOOG) will open a product research and development center in China, and has hired Dr. Kai-Fu Lee to lead the operation and serve as President of the company's growing Chinese operations.

The Google China R&D center will open in the third quarter of 2005. By establishing an R&D center in China, Google says it is making a strong commitment to attracting and developing Chinese talent, as well as partnering with local universities and institutes.

Dr. Lee, who is known for his pioneering work in the areas of speech recognition and artificial intelligence, joins Google from Microsoft, where he most recently held the position of corporate vice president, after founding Microsoft Research China in the late 1990s.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Dr. Lee was a vice president and general manager at Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), responsible for Internet and multimedia software. Lee also spent six years at Apple, serving as vice president of the company's interactive media group, and before that was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Google China R&D center is the latest addition to Google's growing number of global engineering offices, which include Tokyo and Bangalore.

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