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BEIJING, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Piracy, long a problem for foreign media companies in China, also stands to stifle innovation by the country's own dynamic Internet industry, the chief executive of one of China's oldest Web companies said on Monday. "China needs to clean up piracy on the Internet or face a lag in innovation," Charles Zhang, chief executive of (SOHU.O), said at one of China's biggest Internet conferences taking place this week in Beijing.

"The Internet in China has reached an intense and more developed stage," he said. "Protecting intellectual property is becoming even more important ... Solving piracy on the Internet will help the piracy situation in China."

Zhang is one of a small but increasingly vocal group of figures in China's fragmented media community calling for officials to address a problem previously considered a major thorn for foreign players trying to crack the China market.


Piracy threatens China Internet development - Sohu CEO