Google stops Translate service in China

Google withdrew its search engine from China in 2010 due to heavy internet censorship by the government. Since then, Google has had a difficult relationship with the Chinese market. The end of Google Translate in China marks a further withdrawal of the US tech giant from the world’s second largest economy.

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Alphabet’s Google said Monday it has discontinued its Google Translate service in mainland China due to low usage.

The move marks the end of one of the last remaining products in the world’s second largest economy.

Mainland China’s dedicated Google Translate website is now redirecting users to the Hong Kong version of the service. However, this is not accessible from mainland China.

“We are discontinuing Google Translate in mainland China due to low usage,” Google said in a statement.

Google has a fraught relationship with the Chinese market. The US tech giant withdrew its search engine from China in 2010 due to strict online censorship by the government. The other services, such as Google Maps and Gmail, are also effectively blocked by the Chinese government.

As a result, local competitors such as search engine Baidu and social media and gaming giant Tencent have come to dominate the Chinese internet landscape in areas from search to translation.

Google has a very limited presence in China these days. Some of the hardware, including smartphones, is made in China. But the New York Times reported last month that Google has moved some of the production of its Pixel smartphones to Vietnam.

The company is also trying to get Chinese developers to make apps for its Android operating system globally that will then be available through the Google Play Store, even though it’s blocked in China.

In 2018, Google investigated the return to China with its search engine, but eventually scrapped that project after backlash from workers and politicians.

US companies are caught in the midst of ongoing tech tensions between the US and China. Washington remains concerned about China’s possible access to sensitive technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors.

In August, US chipmaker Nvidia announced that Washington will restrict sales of specific components to China.

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