Rumors about Google’s pending return as a search provider in China are completely unfounded, according to new reports citing state-owned China Securities Daily. The reports in question had alleged that Google was secretly working on a variation of its search services which would comply with the government’s strict policies. More directly, development on the project was said to be proceeding under the guidance of Chinese officials with modifications being made to censor certain terms and undesirable content. However, China Securities Daily suggests that the project, codenamed “Dragonfly,” and that subsequent reports about that have no basis in reality. Moreover, it cites internal sources from ‘relevant’ government departments.
For its part, Google doesn’t seem to be taking the speculations seriously and has not released any statements on the matter at all. That hasn’t stopped reports from rolling out with regard to the purported censored search engine. Project Dragonfly is said to have started back in 2017 and to have gained momentum following the company’s CEO meeting with Chinese officials. A timeline of between six and nine months was also placed on the alleged timeline for completion. Human rights groups and others were concerned that the requirements for the company to make a return to China would include blacklisting search terms associated with democracy, peaceful protests, and religion. However, all of that seems unlikely with consideration for Google’s history in the region. As things currently stand, some core aspects of its offerings are banned outright. Conversely, its search engine was initially pulled out of China precisely because Google wasn’t okay with censoring results. Beyond that, it is notoriously difficult for even well-established companies to enter the Chinese market due to government policies. That’s true even for some that had previously obtained approval.
Although the news surrounding the company’s supposed willingness to forego key corporate values in order to relaunch in China appear to be false, for now, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t trying to enter the region. Over the past several months Google has introduced a number of new and specially redesigned applications in China, including a new take on its Files Go file management app for Android. It may also be in a good position to begin delivering Google Home devices and experiences to Chinese users thanks to a new partnership with JD.com. A deal between the search giant and Xiaomi, meanwhile, could help Google deliver its ARCore augmented reality platform.