China renews Google’s Web site license

googleGoogle announced Friday that the Chinese government has renewed its license to continue running its Web site in China.

The rocky relationship between Google and Beijing had cast doubt as to whether the license would be renewed. The tension became public in January when Google said it would cease censoring search results in China and also pointed a finger at Beijing as the source of cyberattacks on Google and other U.S. companies.

An update to the company’s official blog by David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, announced the license renewal: “We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China.”

Drummond said that in the next few days all Chinese users will find themselves on a new Google.cn landing page, ending redirects to Google’s Hong Kong site.

There was no immediate word from China’s Information Ministry about the license renewal.

The past six months have been especially stormy for the Chinese government and the search giant.

Google set up shop with its Chinese search engine Google.cn in 2006. However, the company faced immediate criticism by agreeing to censor its search results to comply with regulations handed down by Beijing. In doing so, Google joined the ranks of other tech giants such as Microsoft and Yahoo, walking the tightrope of doing business in a country intent on keeping information from its citizens.

But this past January saw an about-face in Google’s Chinese policy. The company revealed that it had been the victim of a series of cyberattacks launched from China last year designed to uncover information about human rights activists. In reaction, Google said it would stop censoring its search results in China and threatened to pull out of the country if Beijing didn’t like it.

In an attempt to sneak past China’s regulations, Google shut down its Google.cn site in March and started redirecting Chinese users to its Hong Kong site, Google.com.hk, which offered uncensored Chinese-language search results. That move threatened the renewal of Google’s Web site license, prompting the company to stop that redirection this week.

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