Google has been planning to launch a version of its search engine in China under a project code-named Dragonfly, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The project started last year in April after Sundar Pinchai’s meeting with the Chinese government. Google engineers have built two different versions of the search engine Android app and will likely be launched in 6-9 months after government approval.

Google pulled out of China in 2010 after criticism from civil rights groups and the US government for filetering results leaving the market to Baidu. Rumors of Google’s comeback have been circling for a while.

The company has been slowly entering the Chinese market by launching its Translate app in China and opening an AI research lab in Beijing during 2017. Google also struck a patent licensing deal with local internet giant Tencent in January this year. A more recent move has been the launch of an AI-powered mini-app game on WeChat’s platform.

The question remains if Google has any more chance to win the Chinese search engine market. Another question is whether the company will face resistance from its own staff. The project has been revealed to The Intercept through an anonymous source who is against Google attempts to ignore its “don’t be evil” motto. The (successful) refusal of Google staff to work for the US military has proved that workers have a say in the company’s future.

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.

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