Internet Leader Pulls Plug on Search Engine in China

China internetTwo months after threatening to stop self-censoring its search engine in China, Google announced it was shutting down its Internet search service in mainland China. The California-based company, a global leader in technology, said Chinese users of would be redirected to an uncensored version of its search engine that is hosted on servers in Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong is part of China, it operates under different laws, particularly for businesses.

Web users in China encounter routine censorship, especially if searching for topics considered “controversial” by the government. Chinese authorities consider Google’s anti-censorship move a breach of contract, and some observers say it is a gamble that may backfire on the company. In defying Beijing’s regulators, Google may end up locked out of the world’s largest Internet market. However, Google hopes to retain its other operations in China, which include Internet ad sales, mobile phones, Web browsers, and e-mail.

Some analysts claim the Chinese government needs Google to keep doing business in China. The nation works to portray itself as a more open society than in the past, although Chinese Internet policy limits free speech and deletes or censors information about democracy and human rights issues. If Google were forced to pull out entirely, the country’s public relations image might be further damaged. Chinese companies might also suffer if they could no longer buy search advertising from Google, thereby limiting their global reach.

Related Links

  • Google Shuts China Site in Dispute over Censorship
    This article discusses the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between Internet giant Google and the government of China over censorship of Google’s search engine.
    (Source: New York Times, March 22, 2010)
  • Google Moves China Search Service to Hong Kong
    This article explains the decision by Google to move its China search service to neighboring Hong Kong, which, though part of China, operates with some autonomy.
    (Source: Reuters, March 22, 2010)
  • China Warns Google as Internet Row Deal Seen Soon
    This story provides background to the decision by Google to try to get around the Great Firewall of China.
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  • Google Stops Censoring in China
    This source examines the prospects for Google’s continued operations in China through branches of its business that do not involve the controversial search service.
    (Source: CNN, March 22, 2010)

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