Google is welcome to go back to China now—as long as it complies with the nation’s laws.
That’s what an opinion piece in state-run newspaper People’s Daily reportedly said, though the article has now been removed from the paper’s website and social media accounts. The Chinese authorities often make their opinions known through state media editorials.
Alphabet’s popular search engine unit left China in 2010 over complaints about hacking and censorship. Now the company is plotting a return to the country, which now has 770 million internet users.
News broke earlier this month that Google had been developing a search app that would comply with Chinese laws and pursuing partnerships with local companies. That level of compliance carries implications that don’t sit well with some Google employees, human rights activists, and American lawmakers. Yesterday a bipartisan group of senators called for more information from Google about the project they said could make the company “complicit in human rights abuses.”
The People’s Daily article said Google’s departure had cost it valuable business opportunities as the internet developed in China. The domestic search engine Baidu seems to agree. In Google’s absence it has become the primary search engine in the country. In response to the People’s Daily article, Baidu CEO Robin Li said the Chinese company was ready to go head-to-head with Google if it re-enters the country, adding that Baidu would win again.