Google is welcome in China as long as it complies with the law, state media says-Sino-US

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Google is welcome in China as long as it complies with the law, state media says

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The People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, on Tuesday posted a commentary on its Facebook and Twitter accounts in response to a recent report by The Intercept that Google, which pulled out of mainland China in 2010, was planning to relaunch a search App in the territory that would block sensitive websites and search terms to comply with Chinese government censorship.

The author, identified as Yu Ning, said: "Google is welcome to return to the mainland, but it's a prerequisite that it must comply with the requirements of the law."

"Google failed to understand the Chinese market eight years ago. Whether and when it can return hinges on its own attitude. Only by respecting local laws and regulations and following local customs can multinational companies win local consumers and the market."

By pulling out of China in 2010, Google had missed out on "golden chances" to gain a footing in China's then-nascent Internet market, it added.

"The decision to exit the Chinese market was a huge blunder, which made the company miss golden chances in the mainland's internet development," the commentary said, noting that the number of Chinese Internet users has massively increased since then.

Yu mentioned that "China will adhere to the implementation of its laws on Internet governance, ensuring activities in cyberspace are safe for society."

Yu also defended Beijing's stance by saying that "many countries now have acknowledged that cyberspace also has sovereignty and borders, and must be regulated by national laws and regulations. No country will allow the Internet to be filled with pornography, violence, subversive messages, ethnic separatism, religious extremism, racism and terrorism."

Google chose to leave China's market in 2010, shutting down major services including its search engine, Gmail and Google Maps, when the company said it discovered a cyberattack from China and found Gmail accounts of some Chinese human-rights activists had been hacked.

Google's potential return could mark the strongest challenge yet to Beijing-based Baidu, the country's leading search provider.

Baidu had 148 million daily active users as of June 2018, according to its latest quarterly report. About 80 percent of its revenue comes from online marketing services, which include advertising.

"Baidu could lose significant search traffic and sales share if Google returns to China in six to nine months," wrote Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Ling Vey-sern in a research note.

In response to the news Google could launch a rival product, Baidu CEO Robin Li said that Google would need to contend with the strength of Chinese companies.

"Over the years, our industrial environment and scale of development have undergone earth-shaking changes. Chinese technology companies have already taken the lead in the world in discovering new issues and serving new demands. The world is copying from China. This is what every international company that wants to enter the Chinese market needs to confront and think about," Li said in a status update on messaging service WeChat.

Li said that Google launched its search service in China before Baidu. But when Google withdrew its search engine from China in 2010, its market share was in decline and Li claimed this was because Baidu had surpassed the US firm with "technology and product innovation".

"If Google comes back now, we can ... win again, for real," Li said.

However, Li's statement was immediately jeered at by Chinese netizens and seemed to become a subject of joke among them.

"I don't like Baidu. If you think I'm right, give me a 'like'," wrote Weibo user Yanlvyizhizai. 

"If Google returns, the first thing I'll do is to uninstall Baidu," pledged Weibo user YanxiTD.

"I only downloaded Baidu because I had few choices. If I have more I'll uninstall it right away," said Weibo user ZhoumuchengZ.

China boasts nearly 800 million Internet users and a thriving online shopping market, making it impossible for major foreign tech companies to ignore.

Internet services providers like Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are banned in the world's largest mobile Internet market.

Instead, Chinese netizens can only access domestic social media such as QQ, WeChat and Weibo, which the government can monitor.

On July, the Chinese government reportedly withdrew its approval for Facebook's plan to open a venture in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

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