Google, a part of Alphabet, announced on Monday that it had stopped its service in mainland China due to poor usage.
One of its final products in the second-largest economy in the world will no longer be produced as a result of the change.
Users are now sent to the Hong Kong version of the service through Google Translate’s dedicated page for mainland China. This, however, is accessible from China’s mainland.
“We are discontinuing Google Translate in mainland China due to low usage,” the company announced in a statement.
Google’s relationship with the Chinese market has been tumultuous. The Chinese government’s stringent online censorship prompted the American technology giant to withdraw its search engine from China in 2010. The Chinese government has also essentially blocked its other services, including Google Maps and Gmail.
Due to this, regional rivals like the search engine Baidu and the social media and gaming giant Tencent have taken control of many aspects of the Chinese internet, including search and translation.
These days, Google’s presence in China is incredibly limited. Smartphones and other hardware components are built in China. However, The New York Times revealed in their report from last month that Google has moved some of the manufacturing of its Pixel devices to Vietnam.
Though the Google Play Store remains accessible in China, the corporation is also attempting to convince Chinese programmers to create apps for its Android operating system that would be made available globally.
In 2018, Google was considering re-launching its search engine in China. However, the company finally abandoned that plan in response to criticism from both employees and politicians.
The ongoing tensions between the United States and China in the technology sector have put American businesses in the sights. Washington is nonetheless concerned about China’s possible access to critical technologies in industries like semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
American chipmaker Nvidia said in August that Washington will limit the company’s ability to sell some components to China.