Google Inc. confirmed Wednesday that a search engine feature had been partially blocked in China on the same day that its license to offer Internet services there was due to expire.
At issue is the "suggest" tool, which automatically recommends search queries based on the first few letters a user types. Suggestion technologies are popular in China. The blockage was noted on a Google Web page that tracks the availability of its services in mainland China.
Other services remain "fully or mostly accessible," Google said.
A Google representative said that "it appears that search queries produced by Google Suggest are being blocked for mainland users in China. Normal searches that do not use query suggestions are unaffected."
Google declined to speculate on why the service was partially blocked. This isn't the first time a Google feature has been blocked. Service statuses often fluctuate in China.