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China hits back at Google's uncensored Hong Kong servers

Searches disabled or links blocked

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Chinese government has attempted to restrict access to the Hong Kong–based servers where Google is offering uncensored search results to mainland China users.

On Tuesday, according to The New York Times, mainland China users could not see uncensored Hong Kong–based content after the government either disabled certain searches or blocked links to results.

Citing business executives "close to industry officials," The Times also reports that China Mobile - the country's largest wireless carrier - is under pressure from the government to cancel a pact with Google that puts the web giant's search engine on the carrier's mobile home page. The carrier is expected to end the pact - though it doesn't have an agreement in place with a new search provider.

The paper goes on to say that China Unicom - the country's second largest carrier - has postponed or even killed the launch of phones based on Google's Android mobile operating system. But this launch was delayed by Google itself in late January, after the company first announced its intention to stop censoring search results in China. "We are postponing the availability of Google mobile applications on Android devices from operators in China," a company spokeswoman told The Reg earlier this month.

The company did not immediately respond to questions about whether this policy has changed or will change in the future.

In mid-January, after alleged Chinese hackers pilfered unspecified intellectual property from the company, Google said that it had decided to stop censoring search results and that it would enter into discussions with the government to determine a means of doing so. Google did not discuss the specifics of the talks, but according to Xinhua, China's state news agency, a Chinese official now says that the government spoke with Google on two occasions: January 29 and February 25.

But it wasn't until yesterday, March 22, that Google announced that it would redirect Google.cn visitors to its its Hong Kong-based engine, Google.com.hk, where it would provide uncensored search results in simplified Chinese. A government official overseeing the internet bureau of the State Council Information Office responded by calling the move "totally wrong."

"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks," he said.

"This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts." ®

Update

Google has responded to say that its stance on Google-branded Android phones in China has not changed. "Android is an open source mobile platform, so anyone - including operators in China - can bring Android-powered devices to market," the company says. "Given all our issues in China, we have postponed the availability of Google mobile applications on Android devices from operators in China until further notice."

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