Google has today stopped censoring search results in China, a move that will see the global giant turfed out of the world’s largest internet market in short shrift.
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond announced the move in a post to the official Google blog, writing
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. Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over….We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced. 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.
Because offering unfiltered content just isn’t enough, Google has also launched a new page here that details which of its services are being blocked in China, and to what degree.
An official statement from the Chinese Government hasn’t been forthcoming yet, however Chinese state media has already gone on the attack, suggesting that Google has strong ties with the United States Government.
Despite some speculation that the Chinese Government would back down, Google’s days in China are now numbered. The Chinese Government isn’t about to back down, so it now just becomes a matter of when Google will be forced to leave the country, if it doesn’t fall on its sword and leave first.
Although not the largest search engine in China, the hole left by Google in the country will provide opportunities for local and international companies to grow their base in the world’s largest internet market, where as Google will be the main loser.