China Not Rushing to Block Google

Country still censoring results, but allowing searches through Hong Kong

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Jun 15, 2010  |  Updated 3:00 PM PDT
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After Google shut down its censored search results offered through Google.cn, users who visited that address were instead redirected to Google.com.hk, which offers unfiltered results in Chinese.

Weeks later, China has yet to block access to either of the sites. It is, however, blocking users on the mainland from accessing the results of politically charged search topics such as "Tiananmen Square Incident," according to a financial analyst at firm Piper Jaffrey.

That report continues:

Our take is that if the Chinese government intended to shut down access to Google’s Hong Kong portal, it would have done so soon after Google’s announcement in policy change. We believe the more strict filter we observed over the weekend is another sign of Google being able to continue to operate a Chinese search portal.

Pressure to keep Google open may be coming from a number of quarters. The report suggests younger people are aware of the conflict, and Chinese scientists and engineers are reported to have pushed back against a ban, arguing that access to Google means access to research in languages other than Chinese.

It could also simply be a concession to business -- after all, companies in China are spending plenty of money and receiving plenty of business in return thanks to search advertising purchased through the company.

Ultimately, Google is still doing business in China, if unofficially, while users in the country are still getting censored results, if a little more heavy-handedly than they were previously, and this stalemate seems to be the new status quo.

Jackson West admits that this does shine a relatively soft light on Google's earlier complicity with the ruling party.

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