China issues mapping licenses in order to ensure that all maps match the government's own view of its territory. That way, citizens aren't encouraged to think that disputed regions might belong to other countries or be independent. Also, military facilities can better be kept out of public view.
Google hasn't even applied for a mapping license, though, Michael Kan learned from the Chinese government. So Kan was able to report, "China will investigate and prosecute Google next July if the search engine company does not acquire the necessary state license to operate its Google Maps service in the country, according to the government."
That could become a major problem for Google, since being unable to provide such a basic service would probably affect its share of the search market.
Meanwhile, Kan wrote, "Domestic search engine Baidu, which holds a 73 percent market share, has already received approval for a mapping license. Microsoft's joint venture in China is in the process of applying, the bureau said."
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