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Google stands up for freedom of information and stops censoring searches in China PDF Print E-mail
[23 March 2010] Google has announced it is no longer complying with China's draconian restrictions and censorship of information on the internet.

Image Chinese users are now being redirected to Googles Hong Kong site, which allows unrestricted searches. China has responded by accusing Google of violating a "written promise" to abide by Chinese laws and warned the US government not to politicise the issue.

On its own blog page, Google announced that it had stopped censoring results to its search, news and image facilities on its Chinese site (Google.cn) and is redirecting users to its Hong Kong-based site (Google.com.hk). The statement also noted that recent talks with the Chinese government had stalled as the authorities insisted that Googles self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.


Image Responding to Googles action, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that the issue was a commercial matter and would not damage the image of China. He claimed that China encouraged an open internet, as long as its laws and regulations were met, saying, "what China is striving to prevent on the internet is the flow of information that would pose a danger to national security and the interests of the society and the public".

Qin also said the Chinese government would handle the Google case according to the law and any repercussions would not damage Sino-US ties. He added, I don't see it influencing Sino-US relations unless some people want to politicise it.

Chinas State Council Information Office also issued a statement saying, "Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks. This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicisation of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts."

Human Rights Watch applauded Googles decision, saying it was an important step to challenge the Chinese government's use of censorship to maintain its control over its citizens. Business and human rights director, Arvind Ganesan, said, "This is a crucial moment for freedom of expression in China, and the onus is now on other major technology companies to take a firm stand against censorship ... but the Chinese government should also realize that its repression only isolates its internet users from the rest of the world - and the long-term harm of isolation far outweighs the short-term benefit of forcing companies to leave."

Despite Googles switch to its Hong Kong website, Chinese users still have to negotiate The Great Firewall, i.e. the Chinese states censors, so for the majority of users in mainland China Google is likely to remain blocked.

In January, following cyberattacks originating in China on human rights activists email accounts hosted by Google, the US-based company announced that it would quit the Chinese mainland market if it were required to continue to submit to censorship laws. Though Google currently remains in China, with research and development departments and sales staff, it has stated that if the government blocks access to its Hong Kong search site, it may further reduce its presence in China.

Googles blog post | Human Rights Watch report |

BBC reports: news | business  |
Other media coverage: The Times | Xinhua | CNN |
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