Eighteen providers have been officially approved by the Chinese government to provide online mapping services in that country. The providers, all domestic, were selected from thirty applicants. According to the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM), Foreign companies are not allowed to provide surveying or mapping services unless they are partnered with a domestic company. There are a handful of foreign companies that apparently meet that requirement that are still being considered. Last month the SBSM created a requirement that companies providing online mapping for China apply for approval. In addition to the domestic partnering requirement, mapping providers also have to maintain their data servers within the country and not have any record of leaking information within the past three years. Google and Nokia China are among the applicants, with Microsoft withholding comment about its Bing operations in China.
“Among all the foreign vendors, Google may have some trouble getting a license because currently all its servers that provide map services are outside China,” said Ren Yanghui, an analyst of research firm Analysys International.