Google is now redirecting users from its mainland China website to its Hong Kong website as “a sensible solution to the challenges” the company faces.
In a blog post on the company’s official site, David Drummond, senior vice president for corporate development and chief legal officer, stated: “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. 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 company does plan to maintain its research and development operations in mainland China, and it will continue to offer Internet advertising sales services in the country. However Drummond concedes that the impact on the server shift and the ability for mainland Chinese to access the Hong Kong servers may limit sales initiatives in the country.
Google Search, Google News, and Google Images areas of Google.cn will now be redirected from the mainland Chinese website to Google.com.hk, which resides on servers in Hong Kong, and all search results will reportedly be uncensored. Though Hong Kong is part of China and is considered a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains its own legal system that affords Google a perceived higher layer of protection.
With the departure of Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, Google’s China chief, late last year, Google lost lots of momentum in the country. On January 12, 2010, the company then announced that some users of Gmail.com had their accounts compromised and Google claims the hacking emanated from Chinese government locations. Google’s other services such as YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger are still partially or entirely blocked in mainland China.