One Google, One World; One China, No Google

This just in from the Google corporate blog — the much anticipated announcement on Google’s plans for operating in China. Users in mainland China who visit Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, which is housed on servers in Hong Kong. The search results on this site will not be censored:  Figuring out how to ...

AFP/GETTY IMAGES
AFP/GETTY IMAGES
AFP/GETTY IMAGES

This just in from the Google corporate blog -- the much anticipated announcement on Google's plans for operating in China. Users in mainland China who visit Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, which is housed on servers in Hong Kong. The search results on this site will not be censored: 

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement...
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 ...
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—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.

 

This just in from the Google corporate blog — the much anticipated announcement on Google’s plans for operating in China. Users in mainland China who visit Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, which is housed on servers in Hong Kong. The search results on this site will not be censored: 

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement…
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 …
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—it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.

 

This seems like a clever strategy. Yet, I’m told by knowledegable tech gurus that what’s expected to happen next is that China will lean on Internet-service providers within China to block access to Google.com.hk.

The headline going around the Twitterverse is: "One Google, One World; One China, No Google." In other words, the interpretation is that Google is bowing out of at least the search-engine business in China, though R & D and other operations may remain. 

Gotta hand one thing to Google: Not many companies (or governments) can control leaks so well that most of the world learns the news simultaneously through a corporate  web site.

It’s also telling of Google’s canny (and confusing) packaging that the Wall Street Journal leads with the relatively sunny headline "Google Stops Censoring Results in China," while the New York Times gets to the point with "Google Shuts China Site in Dispute Over Censorship."

Christina Larson is an award-winning foreign correspondent and science journalist based in Beijing, and a former Foreign Policy editor. She has reported from nearly a dozen countries in Asia. Her features have appeared in the New York Times, Wired, Science, Scientific American, the Atlantic, and other publications. In 2016, she won the Overseas Press Club of America’s Morton Frank Award for international magazine writing. Twitter: @larsonchristina
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