Google said Thursday it was assessing the impact of a new Chinese rule on web mapping services, which state media said could exclude foreign companies from providing such services in the country.
"China recently implemented a wide-ranging set of rules relating to online mapping," a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the US Internet giant told AFP.
"We are examining the regulations to understand their impact on our maps products in China."
Under the regulation introduced this month, all firms providing online map and location services in China are required to apply for approval from the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, the China Daily said.
Authorities will be allowed to shut down the service if providers do not get a licence by the end of this year, the report said.
Foreign firms wanting to provide mapping and surveying services in China are required to set up joint ventures or partnerships with local firms.
The government bureau has received applications from several foreign companies and is "still examining" them, the China Daily said.
Analysts said Google may have trouble obtaining a licence from the regulator because all its mapping servers were based outside China.
The new rules require providers to keep servers storing map data inside the country, according to the report.
Relations between Google and Beijing have been strained after the web giant stopped censoring search engine results in China and began redirecting users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong after complaining it had been the victim of China-based cyberattacks.
Google, its Chinese rival search engine Baidu and another local company DDMap account for more than half of the online mapping market in China, the China Daily said.
Nasdaq-listed Baidu said the surveying and mapping bureau was yet to approve its service while Nokia China was seeking a licence for its Ovi Map service, the report said.
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