In the latest development in its ongoing struggle with China, Google has made the move to shut down its China search engine. This comes in response to ongoing censorship from the Chinese government, in addition to hacking violations which Google alleged were originating from within the government itself. From now on, Chinese users will be redirected to Google’s uncensored Hong Kong search engine.
The government of China is reportedly up in arms over the move, which it considers a blatant slap in the face, not to mention a breach in the agreement between China and Google.
“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its search service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” said an official from China’s State Council Information Office.
The purpose of the Hong Kong redirect was ostensibly a compromise to avoid Chinese censorship strictures in a manner which does not violate the law. However, this is not stopping the Chinese from possibly blocking access to the Hong Kong search engine in mainland China in response. It appears likely that the situation will worsen before any resolution is reached.
In shutting down in China, Google is effectively walking away from what is believed to be the biggest Internet user base in the world, numbered at almost 400 million. The company had been cooperating with Chinese censors, until the hacking of the company’s source code, as well as Gmail accounts of Chinese enemies of state.
Despite the move, Google will continue certain operations in China, such as its sales force, as well as research and development. Other Google services, such as those involving music and online maps will continue to operate.