Google searches in China blocked despite censorship halt

Mar 23, 2010 by Robert Saiget

Chinese access to websites covering highly sensitive topics such as Tibet remained blocked Tuesday despite Google's decision to stop censoring its Chinese-language search engine.

The US web giant said Monday it would no longer filter results on China-based Google.cn and was redirecting mainland Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong -- effectively closing down the mainland site.

Searches from mainland computers on subjects such as "June 4" -- referring to the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests -- and the outlawed spiritual group Falungong drew the message: "Internet Explorer cannot display the web page".

Even when a list of results came up for other sensitive key words such as "Tibet riot" and "Amnesty International", not all the sites could be opened and triggered the response "cannot display the website".

Websites of organisations deemed by China's ruling Communist Party to be hostile to the nation -- such as the Epoch Times, Peacehall and groups supporting the Tiananmen Democracy Movement -- were all still blocked.

Popular websites such as Google's video-sharing service were also still inaccessible from Beijing despite the re-routing through Google.com.hk.

The same searches on Google.com.hk from computers in Hong Kong displayed full results -- suggesting that China was itself using its "Great Firewall" of to keep users from having unfettered Internet access.

Google's action came two months after it said it had been the victim of cyberattacks originating from China and warned it could leave the country, but it said Tuesday it was "business as usual" at the Beijing headquarters.

The spat added to tensions between Bejing and Washington which are at loggerheads on a host of issues including Taiwan, Tibet, trade and the value of the Chinese currency.

"Earlier today we stopped censoring our search services -- Google Search, Google News, and Google Images -- on Google.cn," Google chief legal officer David Drummond said in a post on the company's official blog.

"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."

Drummond said Google hoped China would respect its decision "though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services" and that the company would be "carefully monitoring" the situation.

Google has said it plans to maintain its sales, research and development teams in China, which has the world's largest online population at 384 million.

China however had swiftly denounced the move, saying had "violated its written promise" and was "totally wrong" to stop censoring its Chinese language search engine and to blame Beijing for alleged hacker attacks.

The government in the former British colony of Hong Kong, which operates under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", said there were no restrictions on website access, "including Hong Kong based websites from ."

It said Hong Kong "does not censor the content of websites and fully respects the freedom of information and the free flow of information."

Explore further: Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China media accuse Google of violating promises

Mar 23, 2010

(AP) -- China's government reacted testily Tuesday to Google Inc.'s decision to stop censoring its China-based search engine, calling the move "totally wrong" and accusing the company of violating promises.

Google expects Android to 'flourish' in China: CFO

Mar 15, 2010

Google expects its Android mobile operating system to "flourish" in China, Google's chief financial officer said Monday amid a two-month standoff with Beijing over Web censorship and cyberattacks.

Google chided for China censorship deal

Jan 25, 2006

Google's decision to allow censorship of its search-engine results in China was chided by human-rights groups Wednesday and defended by company officials.

Alibaba says Yahoo 'reckless' on Google stance

Jan 16, 2010

(AP) -- China's e-commerce giant Alibaba turned on major shareholder Yahoo Inc. on Saturday, calling the American company's support of Google in its standoff with China "reckless."

Recommended for you

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

7 hours ago

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

10 hours ago

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

IBM's first-quarter earnings fell and revenue came in below Wall Street's expectations amid an ongoing decline in its hardware business, one that was exasperated by weaker demand in China and emerging markets.

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.