Google Re-Routes Around China's Censors

By Jessica Greene
|  Monday, Mar 22, 2010  |  Updated 2:08 PM PDT
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Google has turned to the National Security Agency for help in probing a hack that it says originated in China.

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Talk of Google pulling out of China became a partial reality Monday.

Visitors to Google.cn on Monday afternoon were redirected to Google's Chinese language service based in Hong Kong, where they saw a message that translates to: "Welcome to Google Search in China's New Home."

Google's compromise could resolve an impasse that started in January, pitting the world's most powerful Internet company against the government of the world's most populous country.

But the company's engineers are not sitting back and have vowed to monitor access to sites. As part of the effort to keep the free and open, they're passing along a list of sites China is still putting a wall around. Wired Steven Levy dubbed it the "Evil Meter."

Google plans to keep its engineering and sales offices in China so it can keep a technological toehold in the country and continue to sell ads for the Chinese-language version of its search engine in the U.S.

Here's how Google shared the news, via the company blog: 

So 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.

 China's state-controlled media intensified criticism of Google on Monday, accusing the U.S. company of playing politics by threatening to shut down its China-based search engine.

Government-approved commentaries carried by Xinhua News Agency, the China Daily newspaper and other state media accused Google of harboring a political agenda and said the company must comply with local laws.

"Business is business." the China Daily wrote. "But when it involves political tricks, business will come to an end soon."

Other recent commentaries also have skewered Google while skating over the censorship issue that rankles many Chinese, and the critical tone and timing of the editorial onslaught bore the hallmarks of a coordinated government campaign.

Since Google announced it was considering the shutdown in January, many Chinese have watched with dismay, disbelieving that Google would quit the lucrative China market over censorship yet at the same time unhappy about being reminded of the government's continued heavy policing of the Internet.

The China Daily's editorial, titled "The Biggest Loser," said that Google and not China will suffer most if it goes -- a good-riddance theme that ran through most of the editorials.

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