Google China starts serving uncensored content through Hong Kong


— 5:05 PM on March 22, 2010

Well, well. Google seems to have given the Chinese government a bit of an ultimatum. In response to that hacking attempt in January, Google says it has stopped censoring its search engine in the People's Republic. As of today, Google users in China are getting uncensored content routed through Hong Kong:

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.

That move puts the ball in the Chinese government's court. Said government has been "crystal clear . . that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement," Google says, so the search engine could simply find itself added to the extensive black list of the so-called great firewall of China. Then again, Google claims what it's doing is "entirely legal." The announcement sums up Google's position quite well: "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."

For now, Google intends to keep sales and research-and-development staff in China. The size of its sales team will of course depend on whether China decides to block Google for good or not. As for users in Hong Kong, they should reportedly brace for potential slowdowns and connection issues while Google reorganizes its service. The rest of us can check out which Google services the Chinese government has blocked via this page.

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