Chinese media denies reports of Google's return to country

Chinese media denies reports of Google's return to country

Chinese media denies reports of Google's return to country

Google withdrew its search engine from China eight years ago due to censorship and hacking but it is now working on a project for the country codenamed "Dragonfly", the employee said on condition of anonymity.

Google launched a Chinese language version of its search engine - google.cn - in 2006.

Google's search engine hasn't operated in China since 2010, when the tech behemoth chose to withdraw from the country due to the very censorship concerns the company now appears to be sweeping aside at Beijing's behest.

It has been hard for Google to make any cracks in the Great Firewall which stands rigidly in front of any internet traffic that the Chinese government doesn't like. The market dwarfs any other, given how many Chinese people are online, and data from that "can be used to advance products, especially those relating to artificial intelligence", person close to the development said.

The Intercept reported that the work has been ongoing since the spring of 2017 and was accelerated in December following a meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a top government official in China. It is unclear whether Google will launch a desktop version of its China search platform.

A laptop screen displaying the landing page google.cn, which linked to an uncensored Hong Kong site on July 1, 2010, in Beijing.

That said, the company has been making slight overtures to the Chinese people. "An exec at an internet giant once told me that their AI speaker could be much better if they didn't have to spend so much time on censoring sensitive stuff".

Google's strength in mobile would certainly give the company a lead in search and advertising services. It is now expected that Google will launch in China within the next nine months if the Chinese government allows it.

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According to The Intercept's Ryan Gallagher, who first reported on the tech giant's plans on Wednesday, "The project-code-named Dragonfly-has been underway since spring of previous year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official".

A Google spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the company "does not comment on speculation about future plans".

Once the app is completed, if Google believes the product excels China's current leading search engine, Baidu, and it gets approved by China's government, Dragonfly would be the USA search giant's biggest step in the Chinese market.

There was no guarantee the project would result in Google search returning to China.

Social media sites beyond the reach of the Chinese government are also covered by its censorship activities, hence the blocks on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The initiative would represent the first time in nearly a decade that Google has operated its search engine in the country, whose Great Firewall now blocks its service. Lastly, Google bowning down to the Chinese government is a huge win for the latter as it sets a precedent for smaller companies not to challenge censorship in China.

But a Chinese official later confirmed that Google had been in touch with China's cyber authorities, and a Google employee tells Reuters the project is alive and genuine.

Google exited the Chinese mainland in 2010 after clashing with Beijing over the censorship of search results and a cyberattack on users of its Gmail email service.

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