Google Inc., following through on a promise to stop censoring search results in China, began redirecting traffic from its Chinese home page to the company’s unfiltered Hong Kong site, outside of mainland China.
Google will offer uncensored results in simplified Chinese, designed for users on the mainland, according to a blog post today. The move follows a two-month dispute between the company and the Chinese government over censorship.
“The Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Google said on the blog. “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.”
The question now is whether China will block access to the site from the mainland, said Aaron Kessler, an analyst at Kaufman Brothers LP in San Francisco. The Hong Kong site isn’t subject to the same censorship requirements as mainland sites. For example, it was displaying several results on the search term “Tiananmen Square massacre” today.
“It depends on what the Chinese government does — if they allow Google to accept traffic from mainland China or if they shut that down,” Kessler said. “It wouldn’t be hard for people to type in Google.hk.”
The company challenged the government of the world’s most populous country in January by threatening to allow all search results to be shown on its Chinese-language Web site, including references to Tibet and the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Google has about 600 employees in China. The Chinese site, Google.cn, included the search engine, Google News and Google Images.