US search engines, Google and Microsoft's Bing did not apply for the Internet map service licenses which was granted by China to first batch of 31 Chinese and joint-venture operators, sparking speculation about their future operations in that country.
China which has tightened rules over circulation of maps in the internet citing security reasons, granted licenses to the operators including, a map publisher, several map service providers affiliated with Chinese portals such as Baidu.com and Sina.com.
Operators who obtained a class-A license will be allowed to conduct services, including map searching and locations, marking geographic information, downloading and copying of maps, and map transmissions and quotations.
The end of the article makes me wonder whether they have really opted out of the process or whether there were other factors at work here. I'm guessing it was the latter.
If online maps of China are going to be strictly controlled by the Chinese government then the possibility of a foreign company being granted a license diminish rapidly. Have you ever tried to pinpoint an address in China on Google Maps? The GPS coordinates, the streetmap view and the satellite view are all different. In some cases off by kilometers. They don't want any potential enemy to be able to use this mapping technology against them in any way.