(Yicai Global) Aug. 8 -- State-owned Chinese newspaper the People's Daily will welcome Google back to the mainland as long as it complies with domestic laws, it said in an editorial which was posted online on Aug. 6 but has since been taken down.
Reports began surfacing last week suggesting that Google would stage a comeback in the world's second-largest economy, censoring its content to fall in line with China's strict internet regulations -- the same ones that have ruled out access to social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter.
When Google left the search market in 2010, it opened up a window for local search provider Baidu to take control of the sector with little competition. China's web users have grown significantly since then, with mobile surfers more than doubling over the past eight years to 753 million.
The Californian web giant never fully departed the mainland, and has kept offices in the country to sell advertising space to Chinese firms looking to promote themselves overseas.
If Google can get back to the mainland within nine months, it could cost Baidu big in the search engine sector, according to Bloomberg Senior Analyst Ling Vey-sern. But Baidu's Chairman Robin Li is confident that his firm can hold its own, saying on social media that if Google comes back, it will be defeated.
Chinese tech firms today have the ability and confidence to grow in the face of healthy competition and rival international companies, he said.
Baidu shares [NASDAQ: BIDU] slid 8 percent on the news, which coincided with a second-quarter performance report that smashed expectations as net income rose 45 percent to CNY6.4 billion (USD938 million). The stock rallied then rallied back before hitting a near four-month low of just under CNY226.7 (USD33).
Editor: James Boynton