Google is currently developing an Android app for the Chinese market that will comply with the country’s strict censorship laws.
When complete, the app will provide basic search functionalities and will filter out content that government officials consider to be “unfavorable,” The Sun recently reported. The search engine giant has been conducting secret meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top aides to determine the level of censorship that must be implemented for the app to comply with the Communist Party’s standards.
Google’s Android mobile operating system dominates as China’s most popular smartphone OS. Despite its success, China’s anti-free-speech rules have banned most of Google’s most popular products, including its search engine.
The company’s new China-specific search app will suppress references to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984” books, and anything that is critical of the Communist Party, analysts suspect.
It’s also expected that the app won’t show any information that suggests that Taiwan is independent of China.
If Chinese users attempt to search for a “sensitive query” then the app will automatically display “no results shown.” Similar limitations will be applied to other parts of Google’s new product, including image results, spell check and search suggestions.
GOOGLE launches CENSORED search engine for oppressive China… https://t.co/pM790BEykA
— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) August 2, 2018
Google is trying to keep the product a secret to avoid backlash from its employees and non-Chinese customers.
A spokesperson from the company was quick to provide a statement regarding the new app.
“We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans,” the spokesperson said.
Despite facing numerous issues breaking into the Chinese market over the last decade, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is still determined to serve Chinese customers.
“We want to be in China serving Chinese users,” Pichai said.
Facebook is also looking to grow its presence in China, which is currently extremely limited in the country. Chinese officials banned the social network in 2009, but Facebook has recently been working on a version of its app that includes censorship features that might satisfy the Chinese government.
In late July, Facebook attempted to open an “innovation hub” in China, which was blocked by the government.
China’s Cyberspace Administration responded to the blocking by claiming that Facebook was never issued a business license, the Financial Times reported.
“The CAC was told by the relevant government department that Facebook has contacted the relevant departments in Hangzhou; however, a business license has not been issued to Facebook Technology Ltd (Hangzhou),” a spokesperson said.