Google and China are locked in an impasse as the search giant attempts a compromise that would allow it prevent censorship of its site while maintaining its Chinese business interests.
Yesterday, Google started redirecting traffic from the censored Google.cn site to Google.com.hk based in Hong Kong where an uncensored Internet is allowed.
However, China appears to have quickly mobilised its so-called "Great Firewall" to block some searches originating in China.
So far, it hasn't blocked Google completely not has it forced the company to close its R&D or advertising businesses still located on the mainland.
the saga began back in January when the Google accounts of human rights activists were hacked, an act Google blamed on the Chinese government. At that time, it also laid down the gauntlet about uncensored search.
Meanwhile, the Xinhua News Agency reports that China takes the position that Google has violated a promise to censor search results by redirecting traffic to Hong Kong.
The news that Google had redirected Chinese traffic was broken yesterday by David Drummond, senior vice-president: corporate development & chied legal officer at Google, writing on the official company blog.
"Earlier today we stopped censoring our search services -Google Search, Google News, and Google Images – on Google.cn," he wrote. "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. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk.
"Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over.
"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.
"We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China," Drummond adds.
"In terms of Google's wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk."