China Unicom to use Android despite Google-China row

Chinese mobile carrier China Unicom will use Google’s Android operating system on phones, its top executive said Wednesday, showing interest despite a row between Google and the Chinese government.

Google has postponed availability of Google applications on phones from Chinese mobile carriers in recent weeks, but Chinese phone makers have continued to show high interest in the Android operating system itself.

“We acknowledge that Android is a mainstream mobile phone operating system, and we will definitely use it on our mobile phone terminals,” said Chang Xiaobing, chairman and CEO of China Unicom, outside of an event in Beijing. "We have an open attitude on mobile operating systems."

Google said in January that it planned to stop censoring results on its China-based search engine, reversing years of compliance with government rules. The statement raised fears that Android's reception could be harmed in China. Two Android smartphones, from Motorola and Samsung, had their China launches delayed and Motorola reached a search deal with Baidu.com, Google's Chinese rival.

But China's IT ministry has said it will not restrict the use of Android if the operating system follows local regulations. And Lenovo, China's top PC maker, has said Google's actions have not affected its plans to use Android on devices including Lenovo's upcoming Lephone smartphone.

China Unicom, like rival carriers China Mobile and China Telecom, is state-owned and is a member of the Open Handset Alliance, a group for the commercial use of Android. China Mobile, the world's largest carrier by subscribers, has designed and heavily promoted its own mobile OS based on Android.

Google.cn currently is still censoring searches for sensitive keywords like Tiananmen, the square in Beijing where pro-democracy protests were crushed in 1989. Google has said it is in talks with the Chinese government.

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