China today renewed Google’s licence to continue operating in the country, securing the search giant’s foothold in the country’s fast-growing internet market despite tensions over censorship.
The deal had been in doubt because of the dispute between Google and China over hacking of Gmail accounts and censorship of search results.
Google closed its China search engine in March but wanted to keep a website that offers music and other services. Users had been automatically redirected to Google’s uncensored Hong Kong site, but the company stopped that last week after China warned the move could mean losing its licence.
Google’s relations with Beijing have been troubled since the US company said it no longer wanted to cooperate with government internet censorship. The announcement was prompted by cyber attacks the company traced to China.
The conflict has posed a balancing act for Google. The company wants to uphold the principle of free access to information while also keeping a foothold in a market that has nearly 400 million web users, the world’s biggest.
Google does not hold the kind of dominant position in the Chinese search market that it does in the US The search engine operated by Chinese competitor Baidu has about 60% of the market to Google’s 30%.