China Is Still Weighing Google's 'Late' Web License Application

And the wait goes on.

More than a week after Google's (GOOG) Chinese business license renewal deadline, the government is still reviewing the search giant's application, a state official said Wednesday.

"Google's annual check-in is under way," Wang Lijian, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told Reuters.

Google's Internet Content Provider (ICP) license, which permits it to operate an Internet business in the country, is valid until 2012, but the company must renew it annually. Wang described Google's license application as "relatively late" and said there's no deadline for an official response.

"As Google submitted the application in late June, it's impossible to finish the examination in such a short time," Wang said in comments cited by The Wall Street Journal.

Waiting Game Fuels Drama

The waiting game has injected added drama into a dispute between Google and the Chinese government after the Web giant declared it would no longer censor its Chinese-language search engine. In March, the company began automatically redirecting users to a website based in Hong Kong, which, while part of China, enjoys fewer information restrictions.

Chinese officials called that move "unacceptable" and warned Google that it could lose the right to operate its search site in the country.

In an effort to reach a compromise, Google said last week that instead of automatically redirecting users to its Hong Kong-based site, the company would turn its main China page into a landing site that links users to the Hong Kong search engine.

If Google's ICP license is not renewed, it could lose the ability to operate its Web search business in the country. With more than 400 million Internet users, China has the world's largest online population.