China won’t unblock Google’s services for its citizens if US president Donald Trump keeps slamming the country, according to a Financial Times report.
Chinese politician Liu Binjie said if Trump kept criticising the country’s trade practices, this would impact Google’s progress.
“China’s relationship [with Google] is improving, and both sides and leaders have met on several different occasions,” he told the newspaper.
But he added progress would depend on “the bigger premise of Sino-American relations.”
“Trump has said some very severe things about Chinese trade,” he said. “If this continues, [Google’s] progress will be affected.”
Google isn’t available in China
Chinese citizens can’t access most Google services from mainland China, because it’s blocked by the Great Firewall. That means services like search, Gmail, and YouTube are all censored, along with Facebook and Twitter.
That’s a problem for Google, given China has 1.3 billion mobile subscribers, according the country’s internal figures.
The company moved its search service from China to Hong Kong in 2010, after a clash over censorship, but has been trying to re-enter the country since around 2015.
Binjie, talking to CNBC last month, said Google would likely re-enter the country with services like Google Scholar, which indexes academic papers.
He added that Google services “that do not involve [politically] sensitive information,” might also be available in time.
Google managed to launch a version of Google Translate in China last week, by partnering with a local tech firm to provide a China-based server and the relevant license, according to The Financial Times.
Trump once described Chinese trade policies as ‘rape’
Trump has controversially accused China of being a currency manipulator, even though the country doesn’t meet the formal criteria.
He’s also threatened to impose stricter trade tariffs, and once described the country’s trade policies as “rape”.
Chinese president Xi Jinping has just arrived in the US for his first face-to-face meeting with Trump, with trade likely to be top of the agenda.