Google stopped operating its China-based search engine in 2010 in protest against censorship and alleged hacking by the Chinese government. That move did not endear the company to the Communist Party. But the size of China’s online market has continued to allure the titans of Silicon Valley, and in recent years, “the American search giant has been looking for ways to tiptoe back in,” according to the New York Times (paywall, or see The Verge for a similar, unpaywalled story).
- Google today announced the opening of an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in Beijing, which the Times calls “a small but symbolically significant move toward” getting back into China.
- Google never completely left China. For example: In-country ad sales teams have continued to profit off China’s need to advertise to foreign markets.
- Google says the new center will work “closely with the vibrant Chinese A.I. research community.”
- Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai kissed the ring at the Chinese government’s Wuzhen World Internet Forum, an act of public support that must have helped to smooth the way for new Google projects in China.
For context on Google’s uneasy relationship with Beijing, see the links below. Short version: It’s complicated!
- In 2006, the New York Times published an article (paywall) titled “Google’s China problem (and China’s Google problem),” which looks at the company’s decision to operate a censored version of its search engine in China, and the outrage in the U.S. that caused.
- By the beginning of 2010, Google had had enough. The company’s chief legal officer announced that it would redirect traffic from Google’s China service to its Hong Kong service, which is uncensored. Connectivity issues, and then an outright block by China’s Great Firewall meant that by the end of 2010, Google’s search service was completely unusable in China without circumvention software.
- On April Fools’ Day 2010, Kaiser and I recorded the very first episode of the Sinica Podcast a discussion with Sinocism writer Bill Bishop on Google’s withdrawal.
China’s blacklist of defaulters now includes an entrepreneur who took on Apple and Tesla / Quartz
The fall of big-talking Jia Yueting 贾跃亭 — and his jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none company LeEco — is creating much schadenfreude in the China internet community.
The gold rush for in-feed ads / Caixin
China’s “digital advertising landscape is undergoing a significant shift,” and a “prominent trend amid this change is the use of so-called in-feed ads — which are embedded in newsfeeds or social media streams.”
Amazon steadily, quietly expands in China
Amazon expands China cloud unit / Investopedia
One month after denying it will exit China, AWS opens its second region there / TechCrunch
Video: We asked startups quirky questions at TechCrunch Shanghai / TechNode
Social media and messaging
Weibo and WeChat allow editing of sent messages, answering of WeChat calls in lock screen / TechNode
GM on hunt for Chinese battery suppliers / Caixin