Google switches Chinese policy to stay open

Darren Allan

June 29, 2010

Google has made the decision to change the policy for its search engine in China, under pressure from the country’s government.

You may remember that back in March, Google made the decision to stop censoring search results as the Chinese government wanted.

The search company made the decision to divert China based searches from to – the Hong Kong servers, where results weren’t censored.

Despite the fact that the Chinese government firewalls ensured citizens had web content filtered anyway, the powers-that-be weren’t happy with Google’s actions.

And now, with Google’s Internet Content Provider license up for renewal at the end of the month, Chinese officials have made it clear that if the search giant intends to continue its redirection policy, a new license will not be granted.

In other words, Google will effectively be forced to close its doors in China. On the Google blog page, David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, notes that this is a prospect “dreaded by many of our Chinese users, who have been vocal about their desire to keep alive. We have therefore been looking at possible alternatives.”

And the alternative the company has plumped for is to use a “landing page” on, with a prominent link to the Hong Kong servers underneath the search box. In other words, the redirection will no longer be automatic, but the decision of the searching user.

Drummond explains that on the landing page, users can “conduct web search or continue to use services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on and gives users access to all of our services from one page.”

Google is evidently hoping this compromise will be enough to keep the Chinese authorities sweet, and will mean that it can continue to maintain a presence in the country. Whether that will be the case remains to be seen.


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