Google left China in 2010 due to increased government censorship, but rumors claim it wants to return with Google Play services. That rumor has just been verified by Lenovo’s head of mobile, Chen Xudong, who said Google is on track to launch Play services this year.
While not a verification directly from Google, it is worth just as much. Lenovo will almost certainly be a launch partner for Play services, since it works with Google on Android in countries outside of China.
Xudong did not say when Google plans to launch Play services, the closest indication being sometime this year. He also didn’t say which services will be available at launch — we would be surprised to see all of Google’s services available in China straight away, given the privacy concerns.
We also don’t know if manufacturers will be given the choice between Play services and third-party app stores, or if Google will force them to adhere to the same policies as manufacturers outside of China.
It is an interesting turn of events, considering that in 2014 China removed Docs, Play, and Gmail from the country. No apology has been forthcoming for the hacking scandal in 2010 either, which led to a U.S. investigation into China hacking services for private information.
Huawei appears to be the moderator for talks between Google and China, though this has not been confirmed. When Google announced Huawei would build the Nexus 6P, rumors suggested in return that Huawei opened communications with China.
As China continues to add more mobile and Internet users, Western companies are beginning to change their views on censorship. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg tried for all of 2015 to woo the Chinese government, to no avail, and Google appears to be taking a similar route to receive the government’s approval.