Google would face a boatload of hurdles in its reported plan to launch a censored search app in China.
A Chinese official told Reuters that the project does not currently have approval from local authorities, and the strained relationship between China and the United States on trade makes a short-term launch seem unlikely.
However, anonymous sources told The Intercept, which first reported the plans, that the search giant maintains its launch ambitions.
Following the news, US politicians, human rights activists, and some of Google's own employees swiftly condemned the move as being a slap in the face of internet freedom and a hypocritical reversal from when Google withdrew its service in 2010 due to increased concerns about censorship and cyber attacks.
So, given all of the challenges, why would Google relaunch in China? Simple: the Chinese market is enormous. There are 772 million internet users in China, and more than half a billion people on mobile.
By that metric alone, it's a hard market to stay away from. However, overall market size is not the only metric that matters, and some experts believe that even if Google did successfully launch a search app in China, it would be too little too late.