Google to build data centers in Asia

Internet search giant Google Inc. (GOOG, quote) says it will spend at least $200 million to build a trio of data centers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. The move highlights not only the Asia-Pacific region’s rapid growth in internet use, but also the difficulties the Internet giant has had expanding in China and emerging markets in Southeast Asia.

The facilities will be Google’s first data centers in Asia and house computer, telecommunications and storage systems, along with backup power supplies and security devices.

“Some of the key things we look for in a site include closeness to our users, robust infrastructure, reliable power, availability of skilled workers, reasonable business regulations and cost,” Taj Meadows, Asia policy communications manager at Google, told the Wall Street Journal in explaining Google’s selection of the sites.

Last year, Google moved its mainland China search engine to Hong Kong amid concerns of censorship and declining market share to Chinese rival Baidu (BIDU, quote). Internet restrictions in Vietnam and Thailand, whose governments have stifled public debate by blocking Web sites such as Facebook, have presented additional hurdles to expansion in Asia.