Google withdraws its translation service from China

Google Translate avait été lancé en 2017 en Chine.

Posted Oct 3, 2022 5:38 PM

Google is withdrawing a little more from China. This Monday, the American giant announced that it was interrupting its translation service in the country. “We have made Google Translate unavailable in mainland China, due to low usage,” a Google representative said in a statement, quoted by Bloomberg.

In 2010, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced the withdrawal of its search engine from mainland China due to Beijing’s censorship of online content. This has not prevented its Chrome browser, accessible via a VPN, from remaining very popular there.

Cascading withdrawals

Anxious to keep a foothold in mainland China, the Mountain View giant also launched its translation service there in 2017, via a dedicated site and application. Both have been deactivated and now only display the image of a generic search, redirecting to the service page in Hong Kong, unusable from Chinese territory.

Google’s announcement on Monday is the latest in a series involving US giants. Last June, Amazon announced the withdrawal of its Kindle digital library service from China, two years after closing its “marketplace” there. The previous month, Airbnb had suspended its activity in the country, in particular due to the repeated confinements decided by the authorities to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. At the end of 2021, the social network LinkedIn had, for its part, been withdrawn by Microsoft.

These cascading withdrawals occur in a context of increased competition in China, where local players are multiplying alternative services. Google Translate has had to deal with the equivalent launched by the Chinese giant Baidu. The censorship applied by the Chinese authorities, as well as the growing tensions between Beijing and Washington, also make it difficult for Western firms to operate.

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