Like many other U.S. internet platforms, Google's most popular products - search, YouTube, Gmail - have been banned in China for years, blacked out by a vast government censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall.
At stake is the world's biggest online community of 772 million internet users, with nearly half of the population still not connected to the internet, according to the China Internet Report co-authored by the South China Morning Post, its tech news site Abacus and the San Francisco-based venture capital firm 500 start-ups.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on their plans for the future.
The Intercept reports that Internet titan Google has plans to launch a censored search engine in China that will blacklist access to certain websites and restrict search terms related to human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, according to leaked documents. A final version could be rolled out in six to nine months, depending on when it's approved by Chinese officials, The Intercept reports.
"As a Chinese citizen working for a company that my parents and relatives can't access is demotivating", one employee wrote on an internal messaging board. He said he had transferred out of his unit to avoid being involved.
Fei-Fei Li, a Stanford researcher who joined Google as its chief artificial intelligence scientist in January 2017, said in a blog post at the time, "AI and its benefits have no borders". Project Dragonfly by Google is a custom censored search engine that makes oppression easier than ever before.
Google is set to launch a new version of its eponymous search engine created to conform with China's censorship rules.
Google declined to comment on the accounts and the CAC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters on Thursday.
According to The Intercept, the online giant is hard at work on a project that provide Google's search services in China for the first time in eight years.
Beijing-based Baidu tumbled 7.7 per cent to US$228.07 as of the close of trading on Wednesday.
A laptop screen displaying the landing page google.cn, which linked to an uncensored Hong Kong site on July 1, 2010, in Beijing.
When you search for Liu's name, or his wife's name on the Chinese internet, all you get to see are bits and pieces of news and heavily critical editorials on how Liu's victimhood was misused by the West to demonise the Communist government.
"There's a huge void, Google can fill that void", said Tian, who is now CEO of Asia Innovations. What is surprising, however, is that Google, back in 2010, withdrew its services from China after it discovered a cyberattack from within the country that targeted it and dozens of other companies.
While there is no guarantee that Google will return to China, the company has not denied the veracity of the reports. Tech Crunch reported that Google is essentially cloning Toutiao, a popular app in China. "I'd rather not have it than use a castrated version".
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