Redcore said their new web browser was supposed to be a breakthrough. They said it was “China’s first self-made innovative browser engine.”

But after reports emerged that Redcore’s “self-made” browser contains elements from Chrome, the company’s founder and CEO admitted that it was in fact “built on the foundations” of Google’s browser.

“We don’t deny building on Chrome’s browser engine,” Chen Benfeng told the South China Morning Post’s Sarah Dai. “Google and Apple also did not write the first line of code. Doing so would be reinventing the wheel.”

Redcore originally claimed its browser engine -- effectively, the stuff under the hood -- differed from the four most widely used ones: Chrome uses Blink, Internet Explorer uses Trident, Firefox uses Gecko and Safari uses WebKit.

Redcore said its browser engine is “based on general browser engines, combined with innovative technologies.” This, in itself, is fine: Some of those engines are open source and therefore free for others to use. Blink, the engine powering Chrome, began as a fork of WebKit.

But some users found that Redcore goes beyond just using the back-end browser engine.

The unzipped Redcore installation package shows a Chrome folder made up of Chrome files. (Picture: 小声比比 (ziquanM) on WeChat)

After unzipping Redcore’s installation package, users reportedly found another package named Chrome that contains some of the same files as a Chrome installation folder, according to business news outlet Caixin.

Another user also found that Redcore even uses the same dinosaur icon as Chrome’s hidden dinosaur game, which appears when there’s no internet connection.

The browser is not the company’s only product. Started by an ex-Microsoft engineer who worked on Internet Explorer, it mainly makes cloud security and enterprise application software, with the national government among its clients.

The company has now disabled download links to the browser on its official site.

“We know that this is a life-or-death situation for the company. If we don’t clarify properly, there may be no tomorrow,” said Chen to the South China Morning Post, while wearing a Nike T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Just Do It”.