China Seems Content to Filter, Not Block, Google
Rather than rejecting it outright, China is adapting to Google’s new approach to the country, working toward a balance that keeps access to Google.com.hk (a redirect from Google.cn) open while honoring Beijing’s longstanding commitment to censorship–sorry, “freedom of speech…in accordance with the law.”
That’s the gist of a research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who says that China’s stricter filtering of Google search results and the continued willingness of Chinese companies to purchase advertising on the site suggest that Beijing is unlikely to block Google (GOOG) completely.
Over the weekend, Munster and his team conducted a series of everyday searches on Google.com.hk, as well as five searches on politically sensitive topics. While the majority of the former were not filtered, all five of the latter were, with two–“Tiananmen Square Incident” and “Falun Gong”–blocked outright.
To Munster, this suggests the Chinese government intends to leave the Google.cn redirect in place:
Our take is that if the Chinese government intended to shut down access to Google’s Hong Kong portal, it would have done so soon after Google’s announcement in policy change. We believe the more strict filter we observed over the weekend is another sign of Google being able to continue to operate a Chinese search portal….We believe another factor in China’s reaction to Google is the country wishes to promote stability, which enables the government to achieve its objectives. While the mainstream media in China has not been talking about the Google situation, we believe that there is awareness of the conflict, especially amongst younger people, and we therefore believe the government is unlikely to block Google.