For over a year now, there have been rumors of Google wanting to re-enter China, seeing as it is the biggest country in the world, and yet Google has 0 presence in the country. If Google really wants to reach the next billion, China is going to be part of that. Since Google was reorganized under the Alphabet umbrella, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stated that re-entering China is up to the particular companies under Alphabet. So if Google does want to come back, it's up to its new CEO, Sundar Pichai. There have been reports that they are looking to bring the Play Store back to China, although it would be much different from what we have elsewhere in the world.
Google held their first ever Google For Entrepreneurs event in China this week. The event was attended by a few of the big wigs in China including the company's Greater China chief Scott Beaumont. It was also filled with all sorts of buzzwords that are currently up there on the government's list, like "entrepreneurship" and "creativity". Google has also committed to offering funding, guidance and sales resources for entrepreneurs. Something that would definitely get the government interested in working with Google once again.
Back in 2010, Google opted to leave China, as they disagreed with the censorship laws in the country. It's been heavily referred to as the "Great Firewall of China" and has blocked thousands of websites that are used primarily by Americans. This includes Twitter, Wikipedia (although the mobile site is now approved), Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and many others. Interestingly enough, WhatsApp isn't censored, considering it's a Facebook product, it's pretty surprising. With Google being absent from China, it has led to Android manufacturers opting to create their own app store in the country. Which leads many to believe that the Play Store may not be all that popular if it does return to the country, with there being so much competition already available.
Google has not made any official plans to head back to China, but given their population – of around 1.3 billion people – it's got to be in their road map for the near future. Especially with all the initiatives that the search giant has held for India as of late, which is rapidly reaching China's population numbers and will likely surpass them soon.