China on Wednesday said Google’s Android operating system will not be blocked if it follows local regulations, after speculation that Google’s threat to leave China could hurt the adoption of Android there.
Google last week said it had postponed the launch in China of two mobile phones using Android, in an example of how its row with the government there could affect its businesses beyond just its China-based search engine.
China will not limit the use of any operating system as long as it conforms with Chinese regulations, Zhu Hongren, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told reporters at a news briefing in response to a question on Android.
“China’s telecom market is open,” he said.
The remarks from the country’s IT regulator are China’s first on Android since Google this month said it planned to stop censoring its Chinese search engine, Google.cn, even if that means closing down its China offices. Google cited tough censorship rules and cyberattacks from China for its decision.
The official did not address whether Google services like its search engine or Google Maps could be blocked in China. But many Android phones come preloaded with such Google services and their launch in China could still be affected if those services were banned.
Android phones have already started appearing in China. China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, offers handsets from companies including Lenovo Mobile and Dell under its Ophone brand, which uses a mobile operating system modified from Android.
Lenovo, the Chinese PC maker that recently bought back Lenovo Mobile from a group of investors, still plans to start selling its Android-powered Lephone handset in China this May, a Lenovo spokesman said. The company is developing other Android phones and does not see any effect on its Android plans from Google’s moves in China, he said.
A China Mobile spokeswoman declined to comment when asked if Google’s moves had affected its plans for Android.
Samsung and Motorola made the Android phones that were delayed from their launch last week with carrier China Unicom. Motorola has also announced moves including a mobile search deal with Google’s Chinese rival Baidu.com that could help it work around business obstacles related to Google.