China is the largest internet market in the world, and for that reason, it's almost impossible to resist the financial lure of the country - even with the moral and ethical compromises doing business there requires.
"It is impossible to see how such a move is compatible with Google's "Do the right thing" motto, and we are calling on the company to change course", Amnesty International's China Researcher Patrick Poon said in a statement.
According to reports by the Intercept on Wednesday, the project was launched in December 2017 under the codename "Dragonfly" and involves an Android search app that limits access to websites blocked by Beijing.
The human rights group said it would be a "dark day for internet freedom" and would constitute "a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom" if the tech giant accepted China's censorship terms.
Facebook's website is also banned in China but the company has also signalled its interest to enter the market.
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Google removed its search engine service from China in 2010 and said at the time that it "could no longer continue censoring our results" in the country. The Google program is called Dragonfly and would blacklist search terms and websites that promote freedom, democracy, and other topics that could undermine the government's power, the report says.
The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving USA tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.
The main reason Google took its business out of China was that they believed in free speech and freedom of expression.
Google has been fighting internally over the ethical implications of its actions in recent years, and the China dilemma is a major battlefront.
Google plans to build a censored search engine for China, and condemnation is coming swift and hard from politicians, Google users, and even some Google employees. Allowing Google back into the country would appear to be of little overall benefit to the Chinese government.
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Currently, Google's search service can not be accessed in China, meaning that the company is missing out on quite a large ad market, something which this new project likely hopes to fix.
Human rights group Amnesty International is anxious that such a move from Google would set a risky precedent for the country. One employee told Bloomberg the project was a "censorship engine", while several employees "expressed their disappointment about the China project on internal messaging platforms", according to the Times.
China's top Internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.
In January, the search engine joined an investment in Chinese live-stream mobile game platform Chushou, and earlier this month, launched an artificial intelligence (AI) game on Tencent Holdings Ltd's social media app WeChat.
Google plans limited version of search engine in China
Google responded to the report in a statement to The Verge saying, "we don't comment on speculation about future plans". At the same time , there are over 750 million internet users there, which Google would love to gain access to.