Google pulled its search engine from China in 2010 due to heavy government internet censorship. Since then, Google has had a difficult relationship with the Chinese market. The end of Google Translate in China marks a further retreat for the US tech giant from the world’s second largest economy.
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Alphabet̵[ads1]7;s Google said Monday it was shutting down its Google Translate service in mainland China, citing low usage.
The move marks the end of one of the last remaining products in the world’s second largest economy.
The dedicated mainland China website for Google Translate now redirects users to the Hong Kong version of the service. However, this is not available from mainland China.
“We are discontinuing Google Translate in mainland China due to low usage,” Google said in a statement.
Google has had a fierce relationship with the Chinese market. The US tech giant pulled its search engine from China in 2010 due to strict public censorship on the web. Its 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 production of its Pixel smartphones to Vietnam.
The company is also looking to try to get Chinese developers to create apps for its Android operating system globally that will then be available through the Google Play Store, even though it is blocked in China.
In 2018, Google explored re-entering China with its search engine, but ultimately scrapped the project after backlash from employees and politicians.
American businesses have been caught in the middle of continued tensions in the technology sphere between the US and China. Washington continues to worry about China’s potential access to sensitive technology in areas such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors.
In August, American chip maker Nvidia revealed that Washington would restrict the company’s sales of specific components to China.