Google Translate has been shut down in China over allegedly low usage

what just happened One of the few remaining Google services still available in mainland China, Google Translate, has been shut down in the Asian country, allegedly because hardly anyone was using it. The country’s dedicated Google Translate website now redirects visitors to the Hong Kong version, which cannot be accessed from mainland China.

“We are phasing out Google Translate in mainland China due to low usage,” Google said in a statement. But according to web analytics platform Similarweb (via the South China Morning Post), the Chinese Google Translate site saw a combined 53.5 million visits from desktop and mobile users in August.

Google has had a complex relationship with China over the years. A massive cyberattack, coupled with the extensive government censorship that internet users are struggling with, prompted the US firm to pull its search engine out of China in 2010, just four years after officially entering the market. The move came shortly after Google stopped censoring its services in the country and defied the government.

Google Translate was reintroduced in 2017 after speculation of a return to mainland China. But it now joins Gmail, Chrome and Search on the list of unavailable Google products in the country, much to the disappointment of users but no doubt putting a smile on VPN companies’ faces.

Despite the apparent hostility, there were reports in 2018 that Google had developed a heavily censored version of its search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, for the Chinese market that linked searches to phone numbers. It has also been said to block certain banned subjects, including religion, human rights and peaceful protests. The news drew much opposition from Google employees, US politicians, and human rights activists, and contributed to the project being shelved a few months later, ensuring it never saw the light of day.

Tensions between China and the US have increased recently. The passage of the chips law drew squeals of discrimination from Chinese politicians, and US officials who ordered Nvidia and AMD to stop selling their powerful AI-focused GPUs to the country caused a lot of anger. The US has also hit China with export bans and sections, hampering plans to develop its domestic semiconductor market, and we recently heard of an unsuccessful campaign from China trying to sway the US medium term. But none of this has stopped Microsoft from increasing its presence in the country. Google Translate has been shut down in China over allegedly low usage

Chris Barrese

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