Google Inc. (GOOG) has won preliminary approval from Beijing to provide Internet content in China, the firm said on Wednesday, potentially allowing it to offer news in the world's second-largest Internet market.

The license, handed out by China's Ministry of Information and Industry, may also help Google attract more advertising revenue, analysts said.

"We have made very positive progress on the ICP (Internet content provider) application and have received preliminary approval," spokeswoman Marsha Wang said in an e-mailed response to Reuters enquiries.

She declined to comment on what further procedures may be required for final approval to offer news in China, although analysts said the move helped to add legitimacy to its operations in the country.

"It's definitely a very positive move for Google," said Edward Yu, president of Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

"The license to provide content to audiences is critical to attract big advertisers, and also helps them try to have more content."

China's Web search market leader, Baidu.com Inc., received a license at the beginning of this year to provide news in China.

Baidu had 21 percent of China's 1.37 billion yuan ($180 million) online advertising market in the first quarter of 2007, Analysys said, compared with 7 percent for Google China.