Google announces changes to operations in China

Today, Google has essentially backed down from its previous attempts to move away from censorship in China. The search giant has made significant changes to the Google China landing page in a desperate attempt to be able to continue to operate its Chinese business, according to Ars Technica.

In March, Google changed the Chinese search engine to stop serving censored results, and instead redirect requests to Google's services based in Hong Kong - where the Chinese government's censorship does not reach. The Google Blog says that the government found this move "unacceptable" and "that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30)."

Google says that without the ICP license, it can't operate a commercial website in china and that Google.cn would "go dark". Ars points out that if this happened, Google.cn would no longer offer searches or redirects, leaving users confused about where to go. David Drummond, Google's chief Legal Officer said that it's "a prospect dreaded by many of our Chinese users, who have been vocal about their desire to keep Google.cn alive."

The new approach isn't a huge change, but Google is hoping that it is a change the government will approve of. If you visit Google.cn now, you'll be presented with what looks like a search box, as seen above. It is, in facet, just an image, and when clicked, it redirects you to Google's Hong Kong services again.

Google believes this is an adequate fix, and has resubmitted its application for the ICP license.

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30 Comments

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So Google kicked up a fuss and when China threatened to pull their license, they came crawling back? Yay for Google /s

lordcanti86 said,
Google is starting to realize that they need China a whole lot more than China needs them

No, then they'd do like Ballmer teach us, and censor their site like Bing.

Northgrove said,

No, then they'd do like Ballmer teach us, and censor their site like Bing.

You missed my point. I was saying that in China, Google isn't all that relevant (most people there use Baidu)

I'm glad it seems that Google are sticking to their morals. What is a company if you help continue to limit free speech just because you are operating in a country whose government is insecure and devoid of decency?

Calum said,
I'm glad it seems that Google are sticking to their morals. What is a company if you help continue to limit free speech just because you are operating in a country whose government is insecure and devoid of decency?

If that really was the case they never would of set up there in the first place, don't be decieved by the PR, Google is just as "ethical" as any other company.

73 billion loss is nothing comparing to a US default, China holds too much US debt. Chinese probably are hoping a strong recovery of US economy than Americans. Trying to make even with an individual American company is a childish move. So is Google's decision to leave China. You either in or out, you can't maintain a half-in half-out status, in a long run anyway. England has been supporting goal-line technology for ten years inside FIFA. but as a player, you can't just say in the middle of a game I won't continue to play unless you change the rule. It's nothing to do with fair play, the rule is already there at the beginning of the game, and every player follows the same rule. What you can complain is the rule is applied differently among players. this could be true for a lot American companies in China playground. but it is not the google's case. Google already made up its mind to leave. If England would boycott worldcup, at least I would admire its courage. but later it says I will still take part in Eurocup. No balls.

I don't see how Google can claim the people will be devastated, as the average Chinese person doesn't use Google, they use Baidu. Users like me who were raised overseas or educated in western countries prefer Google.com (Not that censored .cn crap) and we'll just use a VPN service (which is fairly affordable) and go straight to Google.com, no hassle.

As for the government, firstly they won't buy this. Secondly the leak regarding privatization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has an estimated loss of 73 billion USD to the Chinese government, I daresay they'll be looking for ways to make life hell for American companies in China, especially those who has tried to shame them in the past and be a nuisance to them. You do business in China, you have to prepare to accept whatever laws (even if they are stupid or against your philosophy), otherwise you can always choose to leave. Google was defiant (which I admire them for in some way, very few companies have tried something like this in PRC) but they may well have dug their own grave on this.

Ryoken said,
And just like that Google will loose their license..

I think that's what they expect too. They're just acting stupid with them and having their fun for as long as they can. If they were desperate, they'd revert to the Microsoft/Yahoo-esque censorship instead.

I think it's funny. Like playing dumb but the other person knows that you know (such as, "Gee officer...I didn't know I was driving that fast....").

Shadowzz said,
very proffesional...not..

they want to operate in a country, they should be following the countries laws.. not the other way around.


business is business, if being unprofessional brings you money then by all means do so.

Shadowzz said,
very proffesional...not..

they want to operate in a country, they should be following the countries laws.. not the other way around.


It's nice if a company has ethics/morals as well. Chinese censorship laws limit free speech which Google obviously views as immoral. Yes, business is business, but if a business doesn't have good ethics, it can lose customers elsewhere.

Calum said,

It's nice if a company has ethics/morals as well. Chinese censorship laws limit free speech which Google obviously views as immoral. Yes, business is business, but if a business doesn't have good ethics, it can lose customers elsewhere.

Yes, google has a gigantic pile of ethics, which is why they worked inside the censorship laws and turned over piles of emails to china in the first place. An ethical company would have nothing to do with a country in china in the first place, not get caught with their pants down and use their response to it as a PR stunt

Shadowzz said,
very proffesional...not..

they want to operate in a country, they should be following the countries laws.. not the other way around.


Are you saying China is acting more professional?

Doubt the Chinese government will buy this, Google is clearly still trying to get around the law and China clearly hasn't accepted that well in the past. This is not over.

ZekeComa said,

Who gives a **** about bing?


A full respectable 3% worldwide*! Don't forget their miniscule market fragment, you insensitive clod!

* According to Hitslink (May 2010).

ZekeComa said,

Who gives a **** about bing?

Someone asked, so someone apparently does care. Your question is pointless, even more so in the way it was delivered. Then again, the article doesn't really have anything to do with Bing, so the question was posted in the wrong place. Still, you could have bothered to be nice about it.