Google is refuting a report from Nikkei claiming that Google Maps has returned to China in both desktop and app form thanks to a major tie-up with an Alibaba company.
Google spokesperson Taj Meadows said in a statement that there has been no change to the official presence of Maps in the heavily censored regime and that neither an Android nor iOS app has existed since 2010 in the nation’s app stores. Reuters confirmed it could not find the app in the app stores it searched.
Nikkei claims that users were able to download and utilize a Google Maps app on iOS that had sourced data from many of the same ones that Alibaba subsidiary AutoNavi did. It also claimed that triggering the navigation feature would take users to the AutoNavi app, signaling that the company had struck a partnership with said counterpart.
Google had pulled most of its consumer services back in 2010 after refusing to bow to censorship standards imposed by the Chinese government. It has slowly seeped back in with investments and select services like Google Translate thanks to the domestic ties these moves have created — President Xi Jinping wants to foster relationships between domestic and foreign tech companies to thrust Chinese prowess into the global spotlight.