Google China's headquarters in Zhongguancun, Beijing. The company's market share in China fell to 30.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. [China Daily]
BEIJING - Google Inc's application to renew its Internet Content Provider (ICP) license in China is being reviewed by the government and it may take some time before the results are announced, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Tuesday.
The government response comes after the search giant revamped the homepage of its Google.cn site on Monday by providing links to music, translation and shopping services apart from adding the old ICP license number at the bottom of the page.
"We are still examining their application," said Wang Lijian, a ministry spokesman. The ministry is responsible for granting operating licenses for websites in the country.
Wang said Google submitted its application "quite late" and as such the ministry will need more time to announce its results.
Google last week stopped automatically redirecting Chinese users to its Hong Kong site after the government termed the approach "unacceptable" and refused to renew the operating license of Google.cn, the company said.
The government has the right to shut down websites that have failed to get their operating licenses approved or renewed, according to Chinese regulations.
Marsha Wang, spokesperson of Google China, told China Daily on Tuesday that the domestic homepage update did not mean that its application for the renewal of the ICP license has been approved.
"We are still waiting to hear from the government," said Wang. But she said Google's existing operating license continues to be valid till the Chinese government officially refuses to renew it.
Google said in January that it was no longer willing to provide censored search results on its domestic website Google.cn. In March, Google said it was rerouting all its mainland traffic to Hong Kong, where the legal system is different. But the company still retained some of its services like music search, translation and Google Map on Google.cn, which was run by Google's domestic joint venture.
"Google's plan to automatically redirect traffic to Hong Kong gave little room for the Chinese authorities to respond," said Duncan Clark, president of tech consulting firm BDA China.
Google's market share in China fell to 30.9 percent in the first quarter from 35.6 percent three months earlier, according to figures from domestic research firm Analysys International.