The uncertainty over Google's status in China appeared to end on Friday, with the Chinese government agreeing to renew the Internet giant's licence to operate in the country after months of a stand-off.

Chief legal officer David Drummond said in a statement that the Chinese government had renewed Google's Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence, which is required by any foreign firm operating in China, after Google seemingly backed down following a six-month row over censorship issues.

In January, Google announced it would close down its Chinese-language search-engine, saying it was prepared to leave the lucrative China market following attacks on Google accounts of several Chinese human rights activists. Google closed down its Google.cn website in March, and began automatically redirecting Internet users in China to its uncensored search-engine in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is exempt from the rest of China's strict censorship laws, which limit access to any politically-sensitive websites.

Last week, Google appeared to somewhat soften its stance against censorship by ending the process of automatically redirecting Chinese users to the unrestricted Hong Kong site, after Mr. Drummond revealed that the Chinese authorities were unhappy with the redirect.

Its self-censored Google.cn site, however, still remains closed.

The compromise move appears to have satisfied the authorities and, for now secured Google's future in China, the biggest and fastest-growing online market.

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