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Google had planned to launch censored search product in China within nine months

Google has planned to launch its Chinese search engine, nicknamed Project Dragonfly, within nine months, according to leaked documents.

The controversial censored search project has been the focus of intense speculation after the search giant confirmed its plans to re-enter China.

Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai confirmed the company’s Chinese plans were in the early stages, back in August. Chinese search giant Baidu has welcomed the competition, despite online polls suggesting Chinese users would abandon the local platform in favour of adopting Google.

The leaked documents, which were published by The Intercept, reveal Google’s prioritisation of the China market, which its search engine chief Ben Gomes describes as “arguably the most interesting market in the world today”, and a market that Google needed a presence in.   

“China, I think is one of the most interesting markets, arguably the most interesting market in the world today. Just by virtue of being there and paying attention to the Chinese market, we will learn things, because in many ways China was leading the world in some kinds of innovation.

“We need to understand what is happening there in order to inspire us. It’s not just a one-way street. China will teach us things that we don’t know. And the people, as you work on this, both in the Chinese offices and elsewhere, paying attention to the things that are happening there is incredibly valuable for us as Google, potentially not just in China, but somewhere else entirely.”

According to the documents, Gomes said the aim was to reach the site’s “next billion users” saying the censored search engine was “the biggest opportunity to serve more people that we have”.

In order to launch a product in China, Google would have to blacklist websites deemed sensitive or banned by the Chinese government.

While Google has confirmed the existence of the project it has denied it has any plans to launch a product in China in the foreseeable future.

Google removed its search product from China in 2010 citing censorship issues but has recently made a number of deals with Chinese companies such as JD.com and Tencent.

Featured by The Drum

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