Wang Xiaochuan, CEO of China's second largest Internet search company, Sogou, doesn't seem the least bit concerned about the prospect of Google reentering the Chinese market. Wang says Google might struggle to get government permission--unless it partners with a company such as his. "If Google wants to come back to China, there could be several incentives for working together with other parties," Wang says. "Sogou could be the one to work with the Chinese government, and Google could stand behind us." Eight years after abandoning the Chinese market, Google is working on an app that would reintroduce its search engine to Chinese internet users.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was upbeat Monday when he told WIRED about internal tests of a censored search engine designed to win approval from Chinese officials. It will take more than a government nod for Google to succeed, however. That's not only because of the political tensions raised by President Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods, which analysts say make Google's expansion unlikely. China's competitive--and cooling--search market doesn't seem to offer much space for a US entrant. "Because Google has been absent for years, it has a lot of distance to make up," says Raymond Feng, director of research at Pacific Epoch in Shanghai, which tracks China's internet markets.
Google's secret prototype search engine for China reportedly links users' mobile phone numbers to what search terms they've used. This feature would allow the Chinese government to simply associate searches with individuals, thereby putting Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repression if they search for topics that their government deems politically sensitive, according to the Intercept. The mobile-focused search engine prototype, code-named Dragonfly, was first revealed last month by the Intercept. Dragonfly is said to have been conceptualized as a joint venture between Google and a Chinese-based company. Both would have the ability to update a list of verboten search words, which could include expected subjects like "human rights" and "student protest" but could also extend to search terms such as "Nobel Prize", according to the Intercept's story.
Google has been forced to abandon its specialist Chinese search engine that censors results in line with the strict government, reports have claimed. The firm is believed to have shut down an internal data analysis system which was being used to develop the search engine, known as Dragonfly. According to a report from The Intercept, this has'effectively ended' the entire project. Members of Google's privacy team raised concerns about the project back in August and it is now extremely unlikely the search engine can be built without the system, according to sources close to the project. Google has been forced to abandon its plan to launch a specialist Chinese search engine that censors results in line with the strict government.