China's foreign ministry said on Thursday it had no comment on Google's decision to end automatic rerouting of users to its uncensored Hong Kong search portal, but that all Internet operators had to abide by local laws. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang referred questions about Google to “relevant agencies”, adding only that “Internet operators in China should abide by Chinese laws and regulations.” Google said on Monday it would end automatic redirection of users to its Hong Kong search site as Beijing had expressed displeasure at the practice and would be unwilling to renew its Internet Content Provider licence if it continued.
Google said on its official blog that it had applied to have the license renewed. Xinhua reported late on Wednesday that Google's application was being reviewed by the government and that the results of the process would be released soon. Guxiang, a company that operates Google's websites in China, has submitted its renewal application to the related government departments, promising to abide by Chinese laws, the official news agency reported, citing company documents. Xinhua said China regarded the submission as coming in very late. This development is the latest in a series of twists that occured since Google unexpectedly warned in January it might quit the country over censorship concerns and after suffering a hacker attack it said came from within China.