Google Inc could face further pressure for its other products in China as Beijing is due to decide whether or not to renew a license for the firm's flagship search engine in the world's largest Internet market.

In an effort to keep its China license, Google said on Wednesday (June 30) it will stop automatically redirecting China users to its uncensored Hong Kong site within the next 48 hours.

Beijing has been silent on whether a compromise system will be enough to allow Google to stay in the lucrative market -- the world's largest with nearly 400 million users, where local powerhouse Baidu Inc is the top dog.

"If they lose this license, the trend is moving in the wrong direction for Google, it seems likely they will have trouble with their other licenses in China as well," said T.R. Harrington, chief executive of search consulting firm Darwin Marketing.

Google warned in January it might quit the country over censorship concerns and after suffering a hacker attack it said came from within China. Now, Google also faces the hurdle of needing to get a license for its popular Google Maps product in China.

Google said it was examining the impact of the new regulations on its products.
A total of 23 domestic firms, including Baidu Inc, were given preliminary approval to have online mapping services, according to a document posted on China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

A senior government official said on Wednesday he did not know the specific details of Google's new approach, but reiterated the government's long-standing position that foreign companies operating in the country must respect local rules.

"We've long said that to develop in China, you must abide by Chinese laws," Wang Chen, head of the Information Office of the State Council told reporters. "Our stance is very clear in those statements."

Every China-based website needs an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which must be renewed on a yearly basis. Google's ICP license ends in 2012 but comes up for renewal on Wednesday.

Without the license, Google would not be able to run a search website in China. Some users visiting Google.cn now get a webpage with the Google logo and search box, but clicking anywhere on the page brings them to the Hong Kong search site.

Analysts said the non-renewal of Google's ICP license would in China yank the company back to the years when Google had virtually no presence in the country.

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