August 19, 2003 9:59 AM PDT

Microsoft's new China chief opens up

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The former president of Motorola China, Timothy Chen, dismissed speculation about his sudden departure from the company.

In an interview with Chinese news Web site, the man who has been dubbed the "sunshine president" because of his genial personality spoke about the speculation surrounding his resignation from Motorola and his future at Microsoft.

"I did not resign because of poor performance," he said, referring to rumors in the Chinese media that he left Motorola for Microsoft for that reason.

"In fact, the Tianjin plant is doing very well, despite being slightly affected during the SARS period. It is estimated that the third and fourth quarters of this year will do better than?last year's," he continued.

The resignation of one person will not affect Motorola greatly, as the giant mobile phone producer is already well-established in China, Chen said. Chen is credited with pioneering Motorola's entry into the Chinese market and with making Motorola the leading handset maker in China.

The new head of Microsoft operations in China expressed excitement about his position at the software giant.

"I am excited about the future of the software industry in China. I believe the software industry will become one of China's economic pillars," Chen said in the interview.

He also said that as CEO (chief executive officer) for Microsoft Greater China, which encompasses the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong, he will work with the management staff of Microsoft China to advance various investments and partnerships and to encourage the development of China's information industry to fulfill Microsoft's commitments to the country.

Chen, who is in his mid-forties, is married with two children. He received his first degree from Taiwan's Chiao Tung University in 1978 and later moved to the United States, where he graduated with two MS degrees from Ohio State University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

He spent about 10 years working in the United States, at companies such as American telecommunications giant AT&T. He worked at Motorola U.S. for about two years, before moving to Motorola China in 1993.

Since the announcement of Chen's resignation from Motorola a few weeks ago, the Chinese media have been speculating about the sudden departure, said the report.

Many believe that Chen wants to replicate the success he had with Motorola with Microsoft. He is reputed to have a thorough understanding of the Chinese market and has strong ties with the country's officials.

Chen's move to Microsoft China comes as the Redmond, Wash. software giant is increasing its efforts to improve ties with China. Recently, the company signed a pact with Chinese officials to reveal Windows code, making China among the first to benefit from its program to allay the security fears of governments.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore.


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