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Google Awaits China Internet License Renewal


Google head office in Beijing, 30 Jun 2010

Google head office in Beijing, 30 Jun 2010

Internet users in China and Google officials are holding their breath, Wednesday, and waiting to see to see if the American search engine will have its Internet license renewed, in the latest bitter battle about censorship.

Google hopes a small but significant change to its home page in China will be enough to save its business in the world's biggest online market.

Google announced it will stop automatically re-routing users in China to its uncensored Hong Kong site, within 24 to 48 hours.

Under the new plan, people using the search engine will land on a censored China home page, with an option to be redirected to Hong Kong.

Beijing is threatening to pull Google's Internet content provider license, which is up for renewal, Wednesday.

It says automatically rerouting Chinese users to its Hong Kong site breaks China's strict Internet laws.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is expected to make the licensing announcement, late Wednesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Qin Gang has issued a stern warning on the issue of Internet censorship. He said Google and other foreign internet companies must obey China's laws.

"I'd like to stress foreign enterprises operating in China must do so according to the law and also administrator their Internet according to the law," he said.

Google and China have been locked in a bitter battle about censorship for several months.

In March, Google refused to self-censor material Beijing considers sensitive.

It shut down its China site and redirected users to its Hong Kong site.

Many of China's 400 million Internet users are urging Google to obey China's laws. They want the iconic American company to remain in China.

Bookstore clerk Lu Taiping says he uses Google, but says the company should obey and respect Chinese laws.

Restaurant manager Yu Longxia believes, if Google leaves China, its overall business will suffer.

Yu says, if Google retreats from the huge Chinese market, other Internet search engines will take advantage and Google will be the loser.

In a prepared statement, Google says it hopes its compromises will lead to Chinese license renewal.

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