As promised, Google will no longer censor search results in China. Google’s solution is to redirect users to Google Hong Kong, which shows uncensored results. Google Blog explains this interesting decision:
“Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. (…) We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced—it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.”
It’s obvious that Google Hong Kong will be blocked in China and this workaround is only temporary. Google wanted to continue operating in China without censoring search results: “In terms of Google’s wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk.”
Google agreed to censor search results in China four years ago because it hoped that things will get better over time. Here’s an excerpt from a Google blog post written in 2006:
“We aren’t happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there.”
Unfortunately, Google’s optimism was misplaced: “Google and more than twenty other U.S. companies had been the victims of a sophisticated cyber attack originating from China” and there were many “attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the web in China including the persistent blocking of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger”.
Google China’s homepage until today:
Google Chine’s new homepage:
Labels: Web Search
This decision has profound implications.