John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Google Shutters Google.cn

Google has finally adopted the “New Approach to China” that it announced in January, making good on its threat to end censorship of its services in the country. Earlier today, the company begun redirecting Internet traffic away from its Chinese-language site at google.cn to google.com.hk in Hong Kong, beyond the so-called Great Firewall of China.

Searches that once would have been censored now return results, and the legend that once appeared at the bottom of the page–“According to local laws, regulations and policies, some search results are not shown.”–is no more.

David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, announced the move in a post to the company blog:

Earlier today we stopped censoring our search services–Google Search, Google News, and Google Images–on Google.cn. 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. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk. Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over….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. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services.

To that end, Google (GOOG) has established a page monitoring which of its services are available in China and which are blocked. As of this writing, access to quite a few are either partially or totally restricted.

Google stopped short of full withdrawal from the country. According to Drummond, the company will keep its operations in China, as long as it can anyway. Said Drummond: “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.

China and its state-run media, which were particularly vocal in advance of this latest move, haven’t yet commented on it beyond a simple acknowledgment that the redirect is in place.


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