There's nothing untoward about Google using an internet licence that belongs to another company for its recently launched Google.cn search engine, according to an analyst in Beijing.
Under existing regulations, foreign companies are not allowed to hold the ICP (internet content provider) licences required to operate a website in China. This means they must partner with a local company, said Duncan Clark, managing director of BDA China, a telecoms consultancy in Beijing.
Media reports and bloggers have recently highlighted the fact that the ICP licence used on the Google.cn site belongs to a local company that operates a website called GanJi.com.
That's standard operating procedure for internet companies in China, Clark said. "They need a local company to hold the licence," he said.
The practice is viewed as a pragmatic way of allowing firms to operate a website without government regulators granting them a separate licence. "They want to have leverage over the activities of foreign companies," Clark said.
Foreign companies aren't the only ones affected by the regulations. Chinese internet companies that are listed overseas are also affected by the rules. In these cases, separate companies are often set up to apply for the ICP licence.