Google China starts serving uncensored content through Hong Kong

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.

Comments closed
    • Voldenuit
    • 10 years ago

    Next stop: take down Australia’s Great Green Firewall!

      • stmok
      • 10 years ago

      Google has already told the Aussie Minister for “Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy” to f**k off in regards to censoring Youtube.

      It is NOT Google’s job to curb morons in the current Australian Govt who are so insistent in pushing their promises at the Aussie taxpayer. (The current Govt is recklessly incompetent. They do NOT know what they’re doing; but they are so eager to spend money!)

    • tejas84
    • 10 years ago

    Clearly Obama loving Google CEO Eric Schmidt, trying to curry favour with the blatant anti – Chinese President.

    Enough said

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      I’d say GW Bush was way more anti-china.
      But I guess it’s a faux pas to mention that monster now, best forgotten eh.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 10 years ago

        Compared to Al Gore’s illegal fund raising from the Chinese, most of our politicians are anti-China.

          • anotherengineer
          • 10 years ago

          But most of your corporations are pro china, they love the cheap labor and big profits.

            • djgandy
            • 10 years ago

            Indeed we love china making our $50 goods for $1. We hate it when they want a say.

            • Voldenuit
            • 10 years ago

            Reminds me of the time I went to Cracker Barrel, and they were selling Liberty Bell coins with ‘Made in China’ marked on them. :p

      • Machupo
      • 10 years ago

      NYT is saying that it was Sergey Brin’s influence which finally pushed this issue rather than the CEO’s

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 10 years ago

    This is all very cute. Google made it public that this was their stance long ago…thereby giving China several months to mull it over.

    If they so pleased, they had all the time in the world to rig up their “great firewall” to more convincingly cherry pick the little things out that they don’t want people to see.

    Now Google, facing worldwide pressure for their seeming disregard of their own “don’t be evil” mantra, can look like a hero, and China, facing worldwide pressure for restricting free speech to an enormous portion of the world’s population, can look like it’s doing the right thing by not shutting them down.

    I call BS on both.

      • Welch
      • 10 years ago

      It also stands that Google should not have to maintain or block/censor a damn thing…… You don’t go to your freaking ISP and ask them to filter pron so that your kids don’t see it… you block it yourself.

        • bhtooefr
        • 10 years ago

        Actually, there are ISPs that sell exactly that as a feature.

          • Welch
          • 10 years ago

          Yeah, but something tells me that the Chinese government didn’t bother to pay Google a damn thing. I’d love to see the Chinese government offer to pay for blocking services on google’s end (not that they need it… what with the “Great” firewall lol). And have google tell them to shove it.

    • ApockofFork
    • 10 years ago

    My girlfriend is in China and we’ve been communicating with google talk. She’s also using an android phone. I’m sort of expecting at some point for e-mail from her gmail account to stop coming through. I think she tried at some point to access facebook and that didn’t work.

    Whats actually funny about it is that I was joking with her that her e-mail and everything might stop working and disappear because of this mess not thinking that anything serious was going to happen any time soon but she might actually get to experience its effects soon enough.

      • PrincipalSkinner
      • 10 years ago

      The solution is simple. Find a girlfriend outside China. I recommend Thailand 😀

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        I recommend Sweden.

          • sweatshopking
          • 10 years ago

          I recommend meadows mom.

          • jimmylao
          • 10 years ago

          Swedes! I’m going to find a girl from Sweden. Just you wait. I’ll pull a barney stinson and date every kind of girl out there (starts naming list that goes on and on)

    • Welch
    • 10 years ago

    Good for the people of China…… Freaking censoring your people like a bunch of sheep. Way to go Google, I hope this gets blown out of proportion by the Chinese government and then the people of China revolt and overthrow these control freaks…. Almost seems like that’s what Google is hoping for, stirring up peoples rights to freedom.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      Yes, sweet sweet ad-supported personal information-gathering freedom!!

        • Welch
        • 10 years ago

        Exactly 😉

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      I think you find that they revolted and installed those freak you speak of.

    • potatochobit
    • 10 years ago

    Kind of reminds me of elementary school.
    that hurts! let me show it to you!

    • Kulith
    • 10 years ago

    I love sitting back and watching this drama unfold

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 10 years ago

    I guess that can be seen as less offensive than routing it through the Taiwanese branch.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 10 years ago

      Exactly what I was thinking. Saber rattling vs. shot-fired-cross-the-bow.

    • blastdoor
    • 10 years ago

    I think this definitely lends credibility to Google’s “don’t be evil” motto as being something more than a slogan. Sure, you could argue that they were having a hard time competing against Baidu, but 33% of a potentially huge market is still potentially huge. Google is taking a real, genuine risk in leaving China. This is not something that most companies would do.

    So while their growing ability to track my every movement and thought creeps me out a little, this makes me feel that the Google overlords are at least a little more benevolent than brand X overlords.

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 10 years ago

      Or maybe Google is trying to test it’s ability to influence international politics? They’re simply preparing to take over the world and they want to see how much control over the average Chinese citizen that they have.

      (/Paranoid Conspiracy Theory)

        • blastdoor
        • 10 years ago

        Seeing as how they couldn’t even get a majority of Chinese Internet users to use their product, I think they already had their answer to that question 🙂

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 10 years ago

    I call the test I use the “Tiananmen Square Test.” If you type “Tiananmen Square” on Google Images does it show images from the Tiananmen Square massacre or does it show tourists happily visiting Beijing?

    Last time I checked (one year ago) it showed tourists. Now it shows tanks.

      • sonneillon
      • 10 years ago

      I wonder if that has something to do with the safe search feature? If you do the search with it off and then with it on you get different results.

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      Well I expect a mix, the incidents are so long ago, and it IS a place tourist visit, so an unbiased result would give you a mix, but in fact in the west you get nothing but tanks, it would be like getting nothing but abu graihb pictures when you search ‘iraq’ in google images, or WW2 images when searching ‘berlin’

        • TurtlePerson2
        • 10 years ago

        Berlin comes up with modern pictures of the city. Iraq gives modern Iraqi war pictures.

        The issue is what do most people want to see when they look for a word. Most people (in China and America) associate Tienanmen Square with the “Tienanmen Square Massacre,” just like we in America associate Kent State with the “Kent State Massacre.”

          • sigher
          • 10 years ago

          I highly doubt most chinese think of that when thinking tiannamen square, it’s a well know place with a long history and obviously the revolt has been partly hidden from them, so I’m not so sure the chinese expect the same as the west.
          Of course I don’t speak chinese nor live in hong-kong so I don’t know what results they get.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Many Chinese, specifically younger ones who were not alive during the time, literally do not know about the Tiananmen Square events during the student protests at all. Shown a picture of ‘Tank Man’ they have no idea what it is. The censorship is that effective.

            • DrCR
            • 10 years ago

            Indeed, it is amazing the effectiveness of the cultural brainwashing. There is a huge culture shock with American freedom only to be followed by wondering why on earth we’re getting rid of our liberty. Interesting times we live in.

    • just brew it!
    • 10 years ago

    Firewall between mainland China and Hong Kong in 3… 2… 1…

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