There's nothing unusual about Google using an Internet license that belongs to another company for its recently launched Google.cn search engine, according to an analyst in Beijing.
Under existing regulations, foreign companies are not allowed to hold the Internet content provider (ICP) licenses required to operate a Web site in China. This means that foreign companies must partner with a local company to get the ICP license required for their sites in China, said Duncan Clark, managing director of BDA China, a telecommunications consultancy in Beijing.
Media reports and bloggers have recently highlighted the fact that the ICP license used on the Google.cn site belongs to a local company that operates a Web site called Ganji.com using the same license.
That's standard operating procedure for Internet companies in China, Clark said. "They have to have a local company hold the license," he said.
The practice of sharing an ICP with a foreign company is viewed as a pragmatic way of allowing them to operate a Web site without government regulators granting them a separate license. "They want to have leverage over the activities of foreign companies," Clark said.
Foreign companies aren't the only ones affected by the regulations. Chinese Internet companies that have listed overseas are also affected by the rules. In these cases, separate companies are often set up to apply for the ICP license needed to run the Web site.