Google reportedly planning to return to mainland China-Sino-US


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Google reportedly planning to return to mainland China

Photo: CNN

Google is reportedly planning to get back to mainland China, after an eight-year absence from the lucrative market.

The US Internet giant may be preparing to launch a search App in mainland China that would block sensitive websites and search terms to comply with Chinese government censorship. The project is codenamed "Dragonfly", and engineers have created a custom Android App variously nicknamed "Maotai" and "Longfei", according to the Intercept.

The App was demonstrated to Chinese officials, and a final version could launch within the next six to nine months, but will hide terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest. It would also block sites like the BBC and Wikipedia. The Chinese government is yet to give final approval, it added.

A Google spokeswoman told Business Insider: "We provide a number of mobile Apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don't comment on speculation about future plans."

Google shuttered its Chinese search engine in 2010 amid what it called government attempts to "limit free speech on the web".

Its 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 includes 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.

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 by the country's Great Firewall.

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

That has helped Chinese internet giants, led by Baidu, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, to thrive and serve a vast population of smartphone-savvy consumers with a range of popular online-to-offline services.

Even so, Chinese netizens looking for alternative services see the return of Google as a welcome development, and hope that the US search engine could help them find more fresh information.


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