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Why did Google shut down its translation app in China?

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Search engine giant Google has shut down its translation app for China. Its webpage now shows a photo of a generic search bar that redirects to Google’s Hong Kong translation site, Bloomberg reported.

A spokesperson for the tech giant said Google Translate in mainland China has been discontinued due to low usage. In 2010, Google pulled its search engine out of China due to the mainland regime’s censorship of internet content.

According to a New York Times report in 2010, Google had said that hackers in China stole some of its source code and even broke into the Gmail accounts of some Chinese human rights defenders.

The Mountain View-based search provider’s other services, such as Google Map and Gmail, are also blocked by the Chinese government. Chinese local search provider Baidu and social media platform Tencent dominate the local internet landscape. It had made its translation service available to users in China in 2017 through a dedicated website and smartphone app.

According to a CNBC ReportGoogle had considered re-entering the Chinese market with its search engine, but scrapped the plan following backlash from employees and politicians.

American companies are now caught up in recent tensions between the United States and China over the Taiwan issue. According to a Bloomberg report, Google’s rival Apple is now trying to reduce its reliance on China and has now started manufacturing some iPhone 14 models in India. Its supplier Foxconn Technology recently agreed to a $300 million expansion of its production facilities in Vietnam.

According to the report, US companies had directly invested $90 billion in China by the end of 2020 and added another $2.5 billion in 2021, according to data compiled by China’s Ministry of Commerce. The actual toll is higher as analysts predict some companies routed some investments through Hong Kong or through tax havens like the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands.

(With Bloomberg entries)


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