The last time we heard any news on the Google situation in China, the report was that the situation was stable and that Google would continue to re-direct users to the Hong Kong search engine. However, this strategy seems to have hit a snag.
Google’s Internet Content Licence in China has expired and without it Google cannot operate in China. The problem is that the Chinese Government will not allow them to renew their ICP licence if they continue to redirect searchers to the Google.com.hk search engine instead of Google.cn.
With China being one of the largest countries of internet users, Google needed to come up with another plan and quickly.
On the Official Google Blog, SVP Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond announced the new strategy:
We currently automatically redirect everyone using Google.cn to Google.com.hk, our Hong Kong search engine. This redirect, which offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese, has been working well for our users and for Google. However, it’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect 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). Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China.
That’s a prospect dreaded by many of our Chinese users, who have been vocal about their desire to keep Google.cn alive. We have therefore been looking at possible alternatives, and instead of automatically redirecting all our users, we have started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk—where users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page.
Here’s hoping the Chinese Government see this as a suitable solution. What do you think of Google’s new approach to China? Feel free to share your thoughts below.