Google shut down its Translate app for mainland China, one of the few services left that the search giant still offered in the world’s largest internet market.

The Translate service web page in mainland China now has a generic search bar that leads to Google’s Hong Kong translation site. Unfortunately, people from the mainland could not access this site. Google announced that the withdrawal was “due to low usage” on the mainland.

According to social media posts in China, the Google Chrome browser’s built-in translation function no longer works. 

A few tech companies in China offer translation services, but Google Translate is the most well-known. Similarweb, a company that tracks web traffic, says that 53.5 million people used the Chinese Google Translate website in August.

Over the weekend, Chinese netizens were disappointed that Google Translate stopped working. One user wrote on Zhihu—a Chinese Quora-like counterpart: “You can’t use this and you can’t use that, having to read foreign documents every day. Now I don’t know what to do.”

In 2010, Google took its search engine out of mainland China due to Beijing censorship. But it has always been looking into ways to go back. In 2017, it started offering translation services all over the country through a dedicated website and a smartphone app. Google thought about making a test version of a search service for the Chinese market but later decided against it.

Tensions between the U.S. and China have gotten worse. And both countries are trying to protect essential technologies and intellectual property. The latest ban also comes right before a critical Party Congress later this month.

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