BEIJING, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities say an application by Google for an online maps license, required for operating such services in China, is under official examination.
The application was submitted in November by Beijing Guxiang Information Technology Co. Ltd, a joint venture with Google, officials said.
Under Chinese law foreign companies are banned from providing Internet mapping services in China, and foreign investors' stake in joint ventures involved in Internet mapping cannot exceed 50 percent, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday.
Foreign-funded Google China and local firm Ganji.com each hold a 50 percent stake in the google.cn Web site, China's National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation said in a statement.
Google's online maps service in China can operate as it has been, it said, but its service content should not be increased while its application is being studied.
A total of 279 licenses have been granted for offering online mapping services, the administration said.
"The move to bring Internet mapping services under regulation will facilitate public access to better quality online maps as well as maintain state geoinformation security," an administration official said in the statement.