China renews Google's operating licence

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China renews Google's operating licence

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Search engine Google has said that it has been given the go-ahead by Beijing to continue operating its Chinese web site following a censorship row.

That means Google no longer faces the possibility of being shut out of the world’s biggest internet market.

Because search engines in China have to self censor, in March Google started automatically rerouting users to its uncensored Hong Kong-based search page.

Last week it stopped doing that after Beijing indicated it would not renew Google’s licence to operate in China if the automatic re-routing continued.

Now Chinese searchers have to click a button to be taken to the Hong Kong page, where they can look for forbidden subjects, like Tiananmen Square or Tibet, but the results are still blocked by a Chinese government firewall.

However Google can say that it is not doing the censoring.

The compromise means the company keeps a foothold in China and can continue with other services such as music downloads.

Since March Google’s traffic from Chinese visitors has dropped and advertisers have defected to other domestic choices such as China search leader Baidu.

As the world’s largest internet market with nearly 400 million users, China only has an internet penetration rate of 25 percent with huge market opportunities in search, e-commerce and online gaming, analysts say.