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March 22, 2010

Google Shuts Down the Chinese Search Engine

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:

35 comments:

  1. I applaud Google for standing up for the freedom of speech (or search)!

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  2. Congratulations Google, for having the courage to take a stand and to stand by it. just one more reason for me to LOVE Google.

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  3. Google was right to pull out rather than knuckle under. They were also right to have tried to liberalize China. What finally broke up the USSR was information in the hands of its citizens. I suspect the Chinese government knows that and is afraid the same thing will happen there.

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  4. CCP was a fool, they afraid the Internet so much, because they do tooo many evil things.

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  5. For what it's worth, google.com.hk displays the colored dots version for me.

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  6. Thanks for supporting freedom of speech/fighting censorship!

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  7. A month ago, NQ Logic predicted that Google will move out of China. Today saw Google officially transplanting its Chinese base to its Hong Kong facilities. This clash of value between an Internet company and an information-controlled country will continue to be present at every Multinational Technology executive board, and with Google’s disclosure, other U.S. technology companies will have a harder time to explain why they are still doing business in China.

    For a better and complete understanding of the situation, NQ Logic encourages you to read "Google Vs. China" at www.nqlogic.com

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  8. "Thanks for supporting freedom of speech/fighting censorship! " Kamu sudah gila atau apa? Ini bukan kebabasan besuara ataupun menentang censorship, tapi apa yang kamu lakukan ini akan merosakkan genarisi sekarang dengan pekara yang boleh merosakkan pemikiran mereka. Cuba kamu bezakan kes jenayah seksual dinegara kamu dan negara aku; jauh berbeza kerana kami berpegang kepada satu keyakinan bahawa kebabasan itu perlu diawasi, kerana apabila manusia bertindak tanpa batasan dan kekangan mereka merosakkan diri mereka orang lain. Kebebasan adalah suatu yang boleh diberi sepenuhnya. Sebagai contoh, boleh atau tidak kamu bagi ekses kepada pengguna untuk menyelongkar serve ada kerana mereka ada hak untuk bebas menggunakan perkhidmatan anda. Tahniah kepada cina kerana berusa keras menjaga generasi muda mereka daripada hanyut di dalam dunia it. Jangan pentingkan keuntungan sahaja tapi pikirlah mengenai nilai sosial pula, kerana kita hidup didunia tidak lama. Hanya sementara, tapi itu bukan alasan kita untuk merosakkan generasi sekarang kerana kita tidak lagi wujud pada zaman akan datang. Ingatlah harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama...

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  9. As a Chinese citizen (living in HK now), I do appreciate Google as a company and an organization. I'm in the hope that CCP can one day realize that information is not to be blocked. I'm still and will always be proud of my mother-country, but evidently even more then. I as well am looking forward to help my country~ Thx again, google!

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  10. My respect for Google has only grown! Awesome!

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  11. Personally (IMO)I don't think that a so called 'free' government should do business (trade) with countries that are known violators of human rights; who engage in torture, genocide, ethnic cleansing or religious persecution, etc. Doing so involves too many self contradictions and hypocrisies; it pits what we all know to be morally true verses economic gains; It is good that google raised concerns and drew a line; but it is too late; drawing lines should be initiated by the gov.;our obligations and investments at this point are too entrenched and deep to reverse. Government policies should shape economic endeavors, not the other way around. Now the Government will or should feel a little embarrassed, but not enough so to alter any policy in a radical way. We will speak with concerns, but we will not offer ultimatums, we will apply band aids but basically wish for the whole problem to magically disappear so that we can get on with the 'real' business of economic stability and prosperity.

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  12. I teach in China where my students are denied access to the most innocuous sites and yet are expected to compete for places to universities abroad. They are mortified by Google's decision but are disgusted by their government and ashamed to be Chinese. To be told they are not trusted to access Facebook, youtube, Blogger, etc. by a corrupt and unaccountable regime that lies about its reasons to the world (what state secrets and pornography is found on Flikr?) is the main reason they want to make something of their lives in a civilised country firmly placed in the 21st century. Unless China is stood up to by the West, it will undermine the values we cherish and have fought to preserve by promoting despotic authoritarianism to other regimes from Iran to Zimbabwe as fascism did in the 1930s. We must actively support our companies like Google that take principled stands and demand regimes like China fulfil the obligations they made when agreeing to join the UN instead of turning blind eyes to egregious abuses of basic human rights and international law.

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  13. Free but not beyond the limits.

    Congrates for Google, the Truth must open to anybody.

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  14. What is the point, if they are going to be blocked anyways? If Google really wants to help the oppression of speech and such all over the world, they need to look to The Onion Router.

    And mind you this is valid not only for China, Australia has a big black list of blocked sites, they don't want you to know about.

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  15. I have a question: "Google and more than twenty other U.S. companies had been the victims of a sophisticated cyber attack originating from China"

    There are over a billion people in China, who did it? Why Google doesn't say that? Since Google refuses to say who did it, what's the whole point of mentioning this attack thing?

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  16. @Anonymous:

    Here's a relevant quote from David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer:

    "The initial premise, that it all started from a hacking episode, is not quite right. We did have a hacking incident. Most hacking incidents that you see are freelancers -- maybe government sponsored, maybe not. They are out there trying to steal intellectual property, make some money. Or they might just be hackers who want to damage something for whatever reason. That's a fact of life that internet companies deal with all the time.

    This attack, which was from China, was different. It was almost singularly focused on getting into Gmail accounts specifically of human rights activists, inside China or outside. They tried to do that through Google systems that thwarted them. On top of that, there were separate attacks, many of them, on individual Gmail users who were political activists inside and outside China. There were political aspects to these hacking attacks that were quite unusual.

    
That was distasteful to us. It seemed to us that this was all part of an overall system bent on suppressing expression, whether it was by controlling internet search results or trying to surveil activists. It is all part of the same repressive program, from our point of view. We felt that we were being part of that."

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  17. Please be aware, the censorship is "a non-negotiable legal requirement". Don't expect any company to be tolerated doing anything against local law, and it's very unlikely a country like China will change its law for Google specifically.

    China just did what it have to do.

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  18. @ Alex Chitu

    "This attack, which was from China, was different. "

    OK it's different, but what makes people think (and be so sure about it) that Chinese government might be involved in it?

    Human rights activists' accounts are attacked, I'm sorry about that. But why people think (and be so sure about it) that Chinese government is the only possible source of the attacks?

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  19. Yeah Google. "Do no evil"

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  20. I wish move U.S. companies had a spine like Google!

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  21. > It's obvious that Google Hong Kong will be blocked
    > in China and this workaround is only temporary.

    It's one possible outcome of this -- depending on your analysis perhaps even the most likely -- but it's only "obvious" if you can look into the future with absolute certainty (i.e. have a magic glass sphere!).

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  22. i think google will fine, still many country that use google. For me, i think what happen if a country not use google?, we all know that google the biggest one...

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  23. google is the easiest and the fastest to use, hmm...for me it's will not make any different on google if china not use google anymore.

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  24. An informed world is a better one! Great step, Google!

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  25. I think freedom information is a human right, no one cant take it, even a country.

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  26. I guess China only wants their own search engine to use in their country.

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  27. What nonsense to thnk that it is about human right or free speech only. There are broader issues to coonsider. When you ar in Rome do as Roman do. Google is no exception. Anyway Google has learnt it's lesson, and is crawling back. There you go .. for the so-called defender of human right, free speech bla bla bla. If yoy really care, then think about what happened right now in Afghanistan / Iraq / Israel, where basic right to live for many people can be guaranteed by the giovernment, and yet many hypocrites are crying for free speech.

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  28. As a Chinese, I love my country, but I really do not love the current government

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  29. No matter what, I still use Google.

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  30. Several years with Google, and now look at the wall from time to time of collision, really pissed

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  31. Long Live to Google. I will stick on Google.

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  32. good luck google!
    be the numb 1 search engine on the world!

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  33. Censorship? shit... Google is allready censoring very much stuff from the internet, for us (the west) forced to do so by our own authorities...

    They, as any other company in this world does not give a shit about our "rights", most likely is that the cost to do such an big "censoring" was to huge to do...

    But as we get more an more censored (by Google as one example) the pricetag will be lower and Google surely can fulfill Chinas "legal" request...

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