Google's purchase of Motorola has been a long time in the making, but it looks like the last hurdle has finally been cleared: the Associated Press is reporting that China regulators have approved the transaction. A Google spokesperson confirmed that the Chinese government cleared the purchase on Saturday; the deal is now expected to close next week.

Update: Since this story broke, the AP as well as the Wall Street Journal have both reported that Chinese regulators attached a major stipulation to their approval: Google must keep Android available for free to anyone who wants to use it for at least the next five years. Presumably, this is to keep Google from closing off Android to run on only Motorola devices.

The US and the EU granted approval to Google way back in February, but China has been holding out for several months; in March, China's anti-monopoly bureau decided to extend its investigation into the proposed purchase. Despite the lengthy investigation, it seems that Google will still meet its goal of closing the deal in the first half of 2012. While a big part of the benefit to Google is Motorola's 17,000 patents, it'll be particularly interesting to see how the company deals with having its own manufacturing arm for Android devices — especially in light of the recent rumors that Google was planning to beef up its online device storefront with multiple Nexus-class devices this year.