Google has struggled to survive in China for the better part of the last two decades. Back in 2010, Google pulled its search engine from mainland China because of the country’s internet censorship. At one point, Google considered a search service specifically for the Chinese market, but that project never panned out. After Google’s search engine left, local competitors Baidu and Tencent dominated in China. But, in 2017, Google Translate became available for China’s residents through its own website and app.
Now, Google Translate is also being pulled from mainland China. The company announced this development on Monday. Basically, no one is using the service, so it’s shutting it down. But, this version of Google Translate was one of the last services that the company actually offered in China. Now, the Chinese website for Google Translate takes users to the Hong Kong site, which isn’t accessible in the mainland.
“We are discontinuing Google Translate in mainland China due to low usage,” Google said in a statement.
When Google tried to adhere to China’s search engine censorship by telling users some search results had been filtered out, “the Chinese government hated it,” said Kaiser Kuo, former head of international communications for Baidu, China’s primary search engine. “They compared it to coming to my house for dinner and saying, ‘I will agree to eat the food, but I don’t like it.’”