Google executives may have to wait a while to find out whether Chinese officials will renew the company's license to do business in the country.
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is still reviewing China's application to renew its content license and has not set a timetable for wrapping up the work, according to a report today in the Wall Street Journal .
"As Google submitted the application in late June, it is impossible to finish the examination in such a short time," Wang Lijian, a spokesman for the ministry, told the newspaper today.
In a statement, Google said today that "We've submitted our application, and we are waiting to hear from the Government."
The search giant filed an application to renew its Internet Content Provider (ICP) license on June 30, the final day that it could be submitted. The license expires in 2012 but must be renewed every year. Google cannot do business in China without the license.
Industry observers have speculated that Google may run up against some roadblocks considering its recent battles with the Chinese government.
In January, for example, Google threatened to halt its operations in China after charging that an attack on its network from inside China aimed to expose the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. At the same time, Google said it was reconsidering its willingness to censor the search results of users in China as required by the government.
After several months of negotiations with Chinese officials, Google announced in March that it had stopped censoring search results in the country.
In a blog post at the time, David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and Google's chief legal officer, said the company had stopped censoring Google Search, Google News and Google Images on the Chinese Google.cn site. Users in China were redirected to the Hong Kong-based Google.com.hk site, where they were given uncensored search results in simplified Chinese. Late last month, Google moved to assuage Chinese officials by halting the practice of automatically redirecting traffic to the Hong Kong-based site.
The company had been hoping for a more immediate decision about its license renewal.