Google is ending its translation service for China • The Register

Google has shut down its China-based Google Translate app and website, translate.google.cn, ostensibly because nobody was using it.

As of last Saturday, users who attempted to visit the mainland China version of Google Translate were presented with a redirect to the Hong Kong site instead.

“We have discontinued Google Translate in mainland China due to low usage,” said a Google spokesman The registry.

The development is unsurprising given that Gmail, Chrome, and Google-based search have long been unavailable in mainland China. Some have accessed the Services using virtual private networks (VPNs) that disguise the user’s location. Services continue to be available in Hong Kong.

Google officially entered the Chinese market in 2006, but its relationship with Beijing has been marred by policies and views on censorship. Though Google at times gave in to Beijing’s demands for censorship, at other times it turned to Hong Kong as a sort of go-between — rerouting searches through the city and SAR so as not to face or comply with Beijing itself.

In January 2010, Google announced that it would no longer censor content in China at Beijing’s request, a move that sealed its departure. The company spearheaded cyber attacks attempting to access the accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The overall threat, targeting over 20 companies and not just Google, was called Project Aurora.

In 2011, Google said it wanted to re-enter China but was ultimately never able to win back users in the country in the same way.

Google’s market share in China collapsed from 2009 onwards. China’s market share has fallen to less than 4 percent in September 2022 from over 97 percent in early 2009, according to a statistics and web traffic analysis company.

As Google’s usage in China declined, domestic technology and search engine company Baidu saw its market share skyrocket. That figure ranged from nearly 85 percent to 63 percent in 2022, averaging in the mid-1970s.

At this point, nobody seems optimistic that Google will return, with the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress, which will announce changes in Chinese governance and party direction, less than two weeks away. It is highly unlikely that the party will decide to turn things around to US technology given the geopolitical environment between countries.

But Google Translate’s withdrawal from mainland China has created other problems. Websites that rely on it have suffered, as have some apps. But these dependencies are just glitches that are certainly relatively easy to fix, unlike Google’s absence from the Middle Kingdom. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/03/google_translate_china_axed/ Google is ending its translation service for China • The Register

Rick Schindler

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