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Ear to the Ground

Google Takes a Step Away From China

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Posted on Mar 22, 2010
Illustration from an image of Hong Kong by Flickr user skyseeker

In an effort to work through some of its issues with the Chinese government and circumvent Web censorship, Google is pulling its search operations out of the mainland and routing Chinese traffic through the company’s Hong Kong portal. Google will leave its engineering and business operations in China proper.

In a statement on its official blog, Google said it was no longer censoring search, image and news results. Though Google is serving the data through Hong Kong, the results are “specifically designed for users in mainland China.”

On a historical note, Hong Kong, like other coastal outposts around China, owes its success to such moves. Western companies looking to ignore the will of Beijing have been setting up shop there for centuries, although trying to end censorship is a far cry from forcing opium on the Chinese market. Hong Kong is also no longer a colony. As a special administrative region of China, the island metropolis has only limited independence from Beijing.

China maintains some of the toughest controls over its citizens’ Web access and, if the government so chooses, should have no problem blocking access to Google’s rerouted search page (or perhaps censoring results without Google’s consent).

It’s a pickle for Google, which, ethics aside, views an open Internet as good for business. The company is also worried about a recent hacker attack, which it said originated in China.

But it’s a huge market that cannot be ignored. And Google already has stiff competition from the home-grown Baidu search engine and others.  —PZS

AP via Yahoo:
It’s unclear whether Google’s attempt to skirt China’s censorship rules by using Hong Kong as a back door will cause more acrimony.

“Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on has been hard,” David Drummond, Google’s top lawyer, wrote in a Monday blog posting. “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.”

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By huckleberry_finn, July 18, 2010 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

Duh, nothing’ve changed

Neither had Google left China, nor it managed to ram
its policy of non-censured search.

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By Tom1492, July 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

This is why Google is the number one search portal. The organization although faceless to most is courageous and appears to have the interests of communication at its core. Every country as stated earlier has its own laws and limitation, none so in China, however, China is also an educated country and Google plays a significant role in engaging the young consumers.

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By last_boy_scout, July 1, 2010 at 4:39 am Link to this comment

Seems like the new round of this stand is over.

Google stopped redirecting the chinese search
requests to the Hong-Kong-based servers.

Still, Google seems to be the only company that
actually tries to improve something in the human
rights field of China, rather than Yahoo!, MSN and
the rest that just pretend to follow the same round,
but then turn around and shake hands with Chinese
authorities.Here’s the article where the author
reviews the whole story of China-Google relationship

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By ibhdez, March 22, 2010 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As someone who has worked in China (Hong Kong) for a period of 5 1/2 years, I can you Google has not left China. 

Anyone who chooses to do business in a country different than their own - must comply with their rules, Google wants to do business there simply follow the rules.  Still acting under the old American adage that you take your bubble with - the answer is NO.

Google is not the largest search engine in China, they have their own (Baidu). Google’s market share comes in second, and there is a large gulf between Baidu and Google. 

Google has been loosing market share, so there was no way that they were going to leave - there still money to be made (advertising yuans, and top of that Bing would love to move to second.

So stop pretending that you have taken the high road. There is none.

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