One industry behemoth was conspicuously absent from the star-studded guest list for the White House's state dinner for China: Google.
Amidst U.S. efforts to beef up its business with China--Obama told President Hu Jintao, "We want to sell you all kinds of stuff"--the White House invinted an unprecedented number of business leaders and CEOs to the state dinner held Wednesday evening.
According to the White House's official guest list, the expected attendees included Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, among others.
Although Google CEO Eric Schmidt and President Obama have a notoriously cozy relationship--Schmidt endorsed Obama, served as an informal advisor to his presidential campaign, and now belongs to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology--the executive was not among those attending the dinner held in honor of Hu, an absence that is especially notable given the search giant's clashes with China over censorship and intellectual property in recent years.
Last year, in a move that violated the country's official policy, Google stopped censoring Internet search results in China and began redirecting users to its Hong Kong service, which is not subject to the same restrictions. Though Chinese regulators renewed Google's Internet service license, allowing the U.S. company to continue operating in the country at least another year, it seems relations may remain strained.
Google was also targeted by cyber attacks originating in China that WikiLeaks cables later revealed had been masterminded by Chinese officials, including one who was reportedly displeased with the results Google returned when he searched his name.
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