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Google's Schmidt calls for free speech as he visits Myanmar

Google's chairman Eric Schmidt made a rare visit to Myanmar Friday where he advocated for a free and open internet.

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Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt Oct. 29, 2012 in Paris. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Myanmar on Friday, where he urged students to embrace the internet and become empowered.

Speaking to young entrepreneurs and students in the city of Yangon, Schmidt said: “Try to keep the government out of regulating the Internet. Every government I know only wants nice things on the Internet,” Agence France-Presse reported.

According to CNN, the country, also known as Burma, remains one of the world's largest untapped markets for tech companies. Internet access is extremely rare, and only a tiny sliver of the country's 50 million residents has access to cellphones.

Schmidt called on Myanmar's government to change that by allowing private businesses to develop telecommunications infrastructure.

"The internet once in place guarantees communication and empowerment [and] becomes the law and practice of your country," he said. 

He said Google's first priority in Myanmar would be to improve search engine capability and applications such as translation and maps.

More from GlobalPost: Google exec and former US governor visit North Korea (VIDEO)

"Right now the thing Google can do most is get information into the country," he said.

Earlier this week, Google launched a local homepage to allow the tailoring of Myanmar content, and unblocked the Google Apps store to allow access from within Myanmar.

The stop in Myanmar Friday comes just two months after Schmidt made a controversial journey to North Korea.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/130322/google-ceo-calls-free-speech-he-visits-myanmar