A tie-up with large Chinese tech firms, like Tencent and Inspur, a major cloud solution and server provider, would give Google powerful allies as it attempts a broader return to mainland China, where it pulled its search engine in 2010 over censorship concerns.

in addition to investing more in Chinese companies, Google has started rebuilding its presence in China by building a cloud data center region in Hong Kong this year and opening an artificial intelligence research center in Beijing in January.

Google in China can compete with more with larger rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp if it engages in a cloud partnership. In late 2017, giants like Amazon and Microsoft agreed to sell their Chinese servers and some other cloud assets to their specific local partners, Beijing Sinnet Technology Co and 21Vianet Group Inc respectively thereby abiding by the law stating the storage of data within the country and bolstering government control over the movement of information. With Tencent, Google would have an even more high-profile ally -- but would also go up against local competitors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which operates a major cloud business in China.

Synergy ranked Google fourth in the Asian cloud market, behind Amazon, Alibaba and Microsoft back in June post which Google struck a patent-sharing deal with Tencent. The agreement came with an understanding that the two companies would team up on developing future technologies in China which is the second-largest cloud market. Tencent operates its own cloud service and is building an ecosystem of partners that includes Cisco Systems Inc., Nvidia Corp. and Deloitte and is already offering a cloud service called the Tencent Kubernetes Engine which is based on a popular Google technology. Google could also host services, such as Gmail, Drive and Docs, on Tencent’s data centers, leading Tencent to suggest their existing cloud customers to try Google offerings.

Tencent founder Pony Ma is also a representative of China’s National People’s Congress, and Inspur, formerly the state-owned Shandong Electronics Devices Plant, could provide political cover for Google as it seeks to gain approval from authorities to operate more of its largest businesses in country.

Google has touted the security and AI strengths of its cloud division. Tensorflow, a coding library for AI applications created by Google, although is compatible with other cloud services, it’s designed to work most efficiently with Google’s cloud.

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