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Google has invested an undisclosed amount of money in the Chinese mobile voice technology company Mobvoi.
The two companies have previously worked together, as Mobvoi has previously helped Google to introduce Android Wear in the country.
The investment has sparked a flurry of interest as it is yet another sign that Google may be preparing to re-enter the Chinese market.
Last month, rumours began circulating that Google intends to launch a Chinese version of its Google Play app store which complies with the country’s strict censorship laws.
This is an apparent U-turn on Google’s previous stance to censorship in China, which culminated in the search engine leaving the country in 2010, and being banned by the so-called Great Firewall of China, after refusing to censor its search results.
China’s internet censorship laws ban pornographic and other “offensive” content, including “the spreading of rumours”.
Last year, China made it a criminal offence to broadcast any defamatory content online. A perpetrator can face up to 3 years imprisonment if the information has been viewed by 5,000 people or re-posted 500 times.