Google China's "on-again-off-again dance" (nice word) with the world's largest and most strictly controlled internet market is the stuff of melodrama. The latest episode in the ongoing saga poses the question whether Google will be able to renew its mapping license in China, after March 31st deadline.
According to Bloomberg:
China introduced a new licensing system for Internet mapping services in May to "address illegal practices" and an "inadequate awareness of national security," the official Xinhua News agency reported March 21. Since 2008, online mapping services have committed more than 1,000 violations including unauthorized disclosure of confidential information and mistakes in drawing the country's border, Xinhua reported.
As of mid-February, the bureau had granted licenses to 105 websites for mapping services, including Baidu, Sina Corp., a Nokia Oyj joint venture and China Mobile Ltd., Xinhua said. The bureau has pledged to close unapproved websites.
The Bureau said applications for license must be made by March 31, to avoid "administrative actions" it'll take by July 1. The Bureau this month vowed "resolute punishment for serious violations," such as closing websites, Xinhua said.
Presumably if Google didn't meet the requirements -- vague as they appear to be -- it would no longer be able to operate Google Maps in the country.