Google Inc has applied for a license to operate its Google Maps product in China, China Business News reported on Tuesday, quoting an unnamed official.
Google needs a license from China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping to continue operating Google Maps in China. Recently, requirements for a mapping license were relaxed to allow for foreign online mapping providers, such as Google, to engage in joint ventures to provide the service.
Google has applied for the license with Beijing Guxiang information Technology, the newspaper reported.
Right now we are examining their application. We can't comment on the final outcome, the official was quoted as saying.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment and officials at the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping could not be immediately reached for comment.
Google has had a testy relationship with Beijing after Google partially withdrew from China last year saying it was no longer willing to censor search results in the country and after a serious hacking incident.
Access to Gmail is spotty in China while YouTube is banned.
The firm said earlier this month Chinese hackers tried to steal the passwords of hundreds of Google email account holders, including those of senior U.S. government officials, Chinese activists and journalists.
(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)