China retaliates, blocks some Google searches


— 6:00 AM on March 24, 2010

On Monday, Google shut down its censored Chinese website and began redirecting users in the People's Republic to uncensored results from its Hong Kong portal. And as one might expect, the Chinese government didn't just take it on the chin.

According to the Associated Press, China hasn't simply blacklisted Google outright. Instead, the "great firewall" now filters certain searches for sensitive keywords:

On Tuesday, a search request from within mainland China about the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests returned a notice that the "page cannot be displayed." It also caused the Web browser to disconnect for several seconds. Under the old google.cn, a similar query usually returned a list of sanitized sites about Tiananmen Square.

At least one Chinese business has also shied away from the search giant. The AP writes that mobile and online services firm TOM Online will stop using Google's search service for fear of breaking Chinese law.

The stakes might not be all that high for Google right now, though. While China remains the most populous nation in the world, the AP says analysts estimate that Google only makes $250-600 million a year in the region—a small nugget of its $23.65 billion annual revenue. The AP also quotes Colin Gillis, a financial analyst for BGC, as saying Google's spat with China may bring down its market value by about $10-15 billion. Again, that's a relatively small portion of the total. (Google's market capitalization stands at about $174.6 billion right now.)

   
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