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Google Falling Off the Map in China

Danny Goodwin
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Google's woes in China continue piling up. The latest: Google failed to submit an application for an Internet Content Provider mapping license by a March 31 deadline, and it now appears there is no future beyond July 1 for Google Maps in China.

The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping will "firmly punish the serious delinquent behaviors of enterprises that do not submit the application," according to a People's Daily Online report. That could mean closing down or blocking access to unlicensed websites.

Google was supposedly in talks with China to keep its maps online, even issuing a statement Thursday: "We're in discussions with the government about how we could offer a maps product in China."

Google already was facing strict restrictions to get a license, and also would need approval from the state security department to operate in China. There is also speculation that Google China may fail its next ICP annual inspection -- to get its license renewed in 2010, Google stopped redirecting China queries to Google Hong Kong.

Last week, Chinese portal Sina announced that it was dropping Google as its search provider. Additionally, Chinese tax authorities discovered that three local companies owned by Google -- Google Information Technology (China) Co., Google Advertising (Shanghai) Co., and Google Information Technology (Shanghai) Co. -- engaged in "tax-related illegal behavior" (including using fake receipts and reporting unrelated spending, such as massages, as business costs).

And two weeks ago, Google accused China of disrupting Gmail service after users reported they couldn't send emails or access their address books. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu called this "an unacceptable accusation" by Google.

Plus, late last year with its search share continuing to decline, Google had to deal with ad resellers staging a hunger strike after their contracts were terminated.

Google pulled out of mainland China after refusing to censor its search results. The country has blocked YouTube since 2009.

Things are looking pretty dark in China for Google right now. Do you think Google will remain in China or give up on the country -- either by force or voluntarily?


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