Google Uncensors Chinese Search Engine

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has upped the ante in its dispute against China by uncensoring its previously censored search results.

Officially, Google has not breached Chinese rules which insist on search results being filtered to remove content officials class as objectionable; this includes political information and viewpoints the government wants to suppress. Instead, Google has set its Chinese home page ( to route directly to Google's search tool via the Hong Kong version of the site (

It looks inevitable that China will simply block access to that site altogether. The government has the ability to do so via what is effectively a state-wide firewall on communications from sites based outside the country., the US version of the site, has already been blocked.

Chinese Officials Claim Google is Politicizing Issue

An unnamed Chinese government spokesman recently stated that "Google has violated the written promise it made on entering the Chinese market. It is totally wrong in halting (censorship) filtering of its search provider and also making aspersions and accusations towards China about hacking attacks. We firmly oppose politicizing commercial issues, and express our dissatisfaction and anger at Google Inc's unreasonable accusations and practices." (Source:

The removal of the filtering has already taken effect: searching at for "Tiananmen Square" now returns results -- on the Hong Kong site -- headed by the Wikipedia entry about the 1989 massacre. Previously, this and similar results had been filtered, leaving only tourist information about the famous Square. However, it appears that although Chinese users will see the unfiltered results for the moment, the national firewall will block them from clicking through to the "offending" pages.

Google Approves of Uncensored Search

Google maintains that its actions do not violate Chinese law, stating that "We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from 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." (Source:

The firm acknowledges the possibility of the Hong Kong site being blocked in China and has created a special page with current details of which services are available in the country.

Google notes that while the decision to refuse to continue censoring results was partly down to free speech concerns, it was also influenced by a sophisticated cyber attack earlier this year. This involved successful attempts to access the Gmail accounts of human rights activists who had protested against Chinese policies, though it has been reported the hackers were unable to open and read individual messages.

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