Google is welcome to return to China but only if it complies with the law, according to an opinion piece by state-backed newspaper People's Daily, after reports surfaced that the U.S. technology giant is planning to launch a censored version of its search service on the mainland.
The Intercept reported last week that Alphabet-owned Google is planning to re-launch its search engine in China and that it would blacklist certain websites and search terms. Google originally left China in 2010 over concerns regarding censorship.
Reports of such a move from Google raised concerns from privacy advocates because it would block material online that the Chinese government does not like. But the country's state-backed media has taken a different view.
"Regardless of its withdrawal, or whether it can regain access to the mainland, Google has been a politicized brand. This is undoubtedly a tragedy for this well-known multinational company," People's Daily wrote in an article published Monday.
"The decision to exit the Chinese market was a huge blunder, which made the company miss golden chances in the mainland's internet development."
People's Daily said Google is "welcome to return to the mainland, but it's a prerequisite that it must comply with the requirements of the law."
Those requirements are essentially policed by Beijing's so-called Great Firewall, which is a huge policy of censorship. For example, Google can't be accessed right now by most Chinese internet users. And many other services, including Facebook, are also blocked. Some websites can also be censored if they are deemed unfavorable.
The link to the opinion piece is broken but CNBC made a screen grab of the page before it mysteriously disappeared.