Google in Talks with State Bureau to Offer Online Mapping Services

The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping said that China’s industry regulator will not be shutting down online mapping services provided by Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. this is the first time that the industry regulator has firmly denied any intentions to close down the online mapping services.

This has banished concerns that Google is canceling its presence in China, though Google has been slowly losing its market share in the mainland market. The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping also said that they would not be investigating shutting down websites that submitted applications and that are still under examination. The bureau has already received applications from the Chinese divisions of Google and Microsoft to provide services to Chinese people.

Other companies need to obtain a license from the bureau before providing online mapping services in China. Since July 1st, the bureau has been shutting down unqualified websites and other sites that have failed to apply for the licenses. Experts are saying that the way the bureau is shutting down unqualified websites poses a threat to Google.

Previous regulations have stipulated that before providing online mapping services, a foreign company must form a joint venture with their Chinese counterpart, with it owning a controlling stake. But the requirements were changed last June, and was decided that the Chinese counterpart does not require a controlling stake in the venture.

A Google China spokesperson said the company had no comments as of now, but is in discussions with the government on how the company can provide a mapping product for China. Some Chinese travel and transport websites are already turning to competitors that are offering online mapping services as well.

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