back to article Google redirects China to uncensored Hong Kong servers

Google has shut down its Chinese search engine,, and is now redirecting site visitors to its Hong Kong-based engine,, where it will provide uncensored search results in simplified Chinese designed specifically for users in mainland China. The move comes just over two months after the company said it had …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Got to hand it to google..

    ..they have balls of steel! They're taking on a monster -- a country so disrespectful of its people's most basic rights that would probably kill before relaxing its grip on their freedoms.

    But, this is probably the *only* way the eyes of the Chinese people can be opened: I'd guess that a lot of them don't even know their internet is being censored to keep them in line (ignorance is bliss). Google is used by 1 in 3 people there, so they'll surely notice if it goes offline..!

  2. Neil Paterson


    Correct me if i'm wrong (likely) but Hong Kong is actually part of China? How does this work if it is to be totally transparent?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes I do believe that HK was handed back to China in 1997. However they do have quite a bit of independence, such as press freedom etc.

    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      One Country, Two Systems

      Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China in 1997. We have own own laws, elections and taxes, but all matters of foreign policy and defence are handled by Beijing.

      Hong Kong has ranked as the world's freest economy in the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years, since the inception of the index in 1995, yet the Sovereign Power is Communist - the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" established by the Sino-British Joint Declaration before the handover is working.

  3. Jeremy 2


    It's pretty obvious now, isn't it, that Google is trying to get China to kick it's arse out of the country? If China sends Mountain View packing, they'll try and leave with their head high. If they pull out of their own volition, they go with their tale between their legs and the world laughing at them and saying "we told you so."

    'Tis all about PR now...

  4. Jean-Luc


    I am wondering... is the requirement to censor searches baked into Chinese law? Or it it just a "strongly suggested" guidance given by the Chinese government to one and all?

    It wasn't uncommon in Communist countries to have a fairly liberal set of laws. Which weren't followed. And a unwritten set of rules that was most unhealthy to transgress, despite them not being part of the law. Anyone not following the spirit of the government intentions would then be charged with sedition, treason, and aiming to overthrow the government.

    Is Google trying to expose the difference between the law and the unwritten rules? They have a high enough profile to make their case public. And China may be uncomfortable coming across as a Zimbabwe-type dictatorship. But the government still can't really drop censorship.

  5. Jonathan 12

    @Neil Paterson

    From Wikipedia:

    "In contrast to mainland China's civil law system, Hong Kong continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established during British rule. Her legal system is completely independent from the legal system of China.[45] Hong Kong's courts are permitted to refer to decisions rendered by courts of other common law jurisdictions as precedents,[14] and judges from other common law jurisdictions are allowed to sit as non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal."

    So I'm assuming there will be differences, significant enough that Google can make these plans work. As long as China doesn't block the HK domain, which is possible.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      they won't block the whole of .hk

      but they already block the bits they don't like.

  6. Charles 9 Silver badge

    So what if China responds... beginning efforts to disconnect the rest of the Internet from China's network? That's one of the scenarios being posited by the CNN version of this article: blocking ALL outside search engines from accessing .cn sites, Do you think China would attempt something as audacious as attempting to make the Chinese Internet almost completely self-contained?

    1. Steve Roper

      They can't do that

      If China cuts itself off from the global internet they would be slitting their own throats. Chinese businesses NEED to be connected in order to conduct all the overseas trade on which their economy greatly depends. And while the Chinese government might set up a 2-tier system for business and residential connections, with the residential ones being restricted to Chinese addresses, it won't be long before Chinese company IT employees are setting up hidden VPNs through their workplaces to relay themselves and their families/friends through the firewall - if they aren't doing that already.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Simple answer...

        Home-tier transactions would simply not allowed to be encrypted. EVERYTHING must be sent in the clear for all the government to see. This would immediately outlaw VPNs, freenet, onion routing, and other forms of "improper content" in one stroke. Detecting the mere use of an encrypted connection vs. normal Internet traffic is relatively straightforward.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Trying Something Radically Different is to be Applauded?

      "Do you think China would attempt something as audacious as attempting to make the Chinese Internet almost completely self-contained?" ..... Charles 9 Posted Tuesday 23rd March 2010 00:03 GMT

      To Create a Central Committee Controlled World in the Centre of a World in Chaos, Charles 9? Seems like a Novel Experiment ..... for the Wicked Wild Westernised Models appear to Descend into Anarchy and Reliance on Wars for Imposing Controls and the Creation of InDebtedness to an Artificial Power Currency for Enslavement with Printed Paper Notes/IOUs .......... and that appears to be a System which the Main Body is Rejecting with Meltdowns, in much the same way as a Foreign Organ is Rejected by a Human Body.

  7. Long Fei

    Just as long... they don't block gmail. Remember is still available here (China), though some results don't come up. Annoying.

  8. Alastair 7

    I thought I was reading The Register

    C'mon Reg, I've come to expect more (that is, less) from you. How does this fit into Google's plan to be overwhelming evil in every sense? How many babies are they planning to kill?

    I won't believe this is a Register article until it is edited to add a tone of deep suspicion whilst not citing any reasons for doing so.

    1. jackharrer


      >>How many babies are they planning to kill?

      I think we established this alreadyon Internet! Not babies, KITTENS, ficking KITTENS!!!

  9. JimC

    Funny this should come up

    In a week in which press coverage of Google would otherwise be dominated by the "lets do evil" aspects of their purchase of you tube isn't it...

  10. jamie 5


    China has no problem blocking plenty of other HK sites. ALl this will do is to make my google searches slower for the next few days. HK is and isn't a part of mainland china depending on whatever suits the government in Beijing.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    China does not have Rule of Law

    Nor does it have an independent judiciary. So "entirely legal" is irrelevant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Actually China has rule of law

      You'll be surprised to find how many high ranking executives are being executed there for breaking the law while in the western world they would get bonuses fully paid by taxpayers money.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        RE: Actually China has rule of law (NOT!)

        "You'll be surprised to find how many high ranking executives are being executed there for breaking the law..."

        When people plot to take the life of another, the law is well documented before the crime is committed, and they lose their life through an independent judiciary - that is rule of law.

        Executing people for merely breaking laws (where execution is not a documented penalty at the time the law is committed) is not rule of law, it is petty dictatorship demonstrated through systems of communism and fascism.

        Killing people for taking something is as inhumane as amputating limbs. Killing people because their employees may have made a mistake or taken something from someone is bizarre!!!

      2. Jean-Luc

        No, I'd be surprised by other things...

        such as how comfortable it is to preach economic management while you have the freedom to express yourself and to vote your current government out of office.

        Seems to me executions in China are signs of an incompetent and corrupt system that makes a few examples when things get too public. So you have the occasional scapegoatee official or biz dude who gets offed. Instead of a concerted effort to get officials to behave correctly and not take biz dudes' bribes. Perhaps by, shudder, allowing the public to decide who should be in government.

        You know, that weird thingy called democracy. Which, in many of the posters' countries, allows us to rant about how evil our government and the big bad Google can be while defending China's thoughtful and kind rulers.

  12. gimbal


    I mean, seriously, do you kind folks realize how significant this is for the Chinese population?

    Have you ever seen the documentary, Tank Man, from PBS Frontline?[1] It starts out, about the Tienanmen Square moment, where a single man blocked a column of tanks - proceeds to address the Tienanmen Square movement, and (as I recall) ends with addressing matters related to the fact that that one image is absolutely impossible to find, in China - and that there have been US congressional hearings, with companies related to the whitewash, specifically focusing on Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

    I mean, wow.

    Godspeed, Google - never thought I'd say that.

    Moderatrix, if I kindly may:


    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      So many Questions ....

      If one follows gimbal's Tank Man link, .... ..... with further travel and a click on "Interviews" and then a click on "Watch Online" and then a further click on any chapter to start watching, are you denied access to the stories, with the following [gibberish] missive displayed ...... "Sorry, the report you requested available in your country due to rights restrictions. Please select another report from the list below."?

      Is that not censorship or just capitalism at ITs Work or is it Internetworking Propaganda not working for everyone and therefore a dodgy deal ?

  13. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Ahh the communist system.... totally flawed and so difficult to maintain...

    In a nut shell, old men hanging on to corruption via guns.

    1. TimeMaster T

      Works doesn't it?

      As long as the ones making the rules have the guns it works.

      What happens when 1,000,000,000 people, or even just a good fraction of them, decide that guns or no they are going to get their way.

      Its going to be a blood bath.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      <insert OS of choice>.... so totally flawed and so difficult to maintain...

      In a nut shell, old <OS developer> hanging on to corruption via (corporate marketing) guns.

      Thanks for the IT angle.

    3. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

      politicians of every stripe

      "In a nut shell, old men hanging on to corruption via guns"

      That ain't just communism my friend...

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Ahh the communist system....

      > In a nut shell, old men hanging on to corruption via guns.

      That pretty much sums up most political regimes including the so called "democratic" ones.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just like the capitalist system ...

      ... except the plutocrats try to maintain a veneer of civilized respectability.

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Glass Houses and Flying Rocks

    "Ahh the communist totally flawed and so difficult to maintain...

    In a nut shell, old men hanging on to corruption via guns." ...... Winkypop Posted Tuesday 23rd March 2010 04:28 GMT

    Err ....... Is that not the capitalist system, Winkypop, for who is constantly at war to promote peace and democracy ...... ergo are they incompatible?

    And of course there is an Uncle Sam version of Tank Man, to trump gimbal's Wow!!! Posted Tuesday 23rd March 2010 04:28 GMT.

    And it can be found here, " Margie Schoedinger Court Documents March 20, 2010" ......

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Glass Houses and Flying Rocks

      Winkypop - "old men hanging on to corruption via guns"

      amanfromMars 1, "Is that not the capitalist system"

      Capitalism is about people freely making arrangements to make money from doing work with someone else, abiding by a contract, getting paid for it, and saving the money.

      So no - Capitalist System is people hanging onto their own guns and shooting the corrupt people who are trying to take their money they acquired (capital) through their voluntary work for other people.

  15. tempemeaty

    They stayed after all

    Looks like Google found their way to stay in much for them leaving. I said I'd believe it when they've actually done it. They stayed after all.

  16. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Let's not forget

    It's not China which has changed but Google.

    Google was entirely happy to go along with supporting and facilitating censorship when it did its deal with China. "Don't do evil", was as hollow then as it is now.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT Celebrity Deathmatch!

    I'll give 2:1 odds on Google. Any takers?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flame Away...

    At the risk of being used as a verbal puchbag ;)

    What we have here is an attempt by Google to politicise business in the interests of their own future profit. Whilst Googles motivations may seem altruistic, they are in fact ultimately driven by commercial success and hence share value and little if anything else. Whenever a commercial enterprise enters a foreign market it is bound by the laws of that market. It has no place being there if it is not willing to operate within the laws of any foreign market.

    Whether or not you and I sanction the laws or political motivations of any foreign country is wholly irrelevant.

    I certainly do not support the Chinese government or the way it operates. Quite the opposite in fact. I fully understand and support the need for pressue to be put on the Chinese government in respect of human rights and other such matters, however politicising business matters, such as Google are doing here is not the way to address such matters. This is more about Google future share value that it is anything else.

    At the end of the day, China does not need to hop into bed with Google and Google knows this, hence we have yet to see Google fufil it's threat to pull out of China.

    Finally, for those of you not yet old enough to wear the t-shirt of the seasoned cynic, you do not get to be big in business by doing no evil :)

    1. pedrodude

      Risky strategy though...

      It's a bit risky for google if they are doing this for future profits though. Depends on whether the "income" percentave quoted refers to revenue or EBIT, but either way you slice it, it is still a fair few tamales. Would you really accept a [guaranteed] elective loss of 1%-2%, plus the opportunity cost of losing access to all that growth potential (they've only got 33% market share and according to this morning's City AM the chinese search market is growing 40% annually)?

      It defies all conventional business logic as to why they're doing this; perhaps they've foreseen a dot-com bubble style crash in the Chinese market and want to re-enter at a later date (and perhaps even accelerate it!).

      But it's dangerous because it will naff off the chinese who absolutely do not capitulate, they'll retrench and make things harder for everyone else within the market (they currently have the luxury of being able to consider saving face as a far more important factor than having an open market). Also it sets Google up for a bit of a fall. Will they now also pull out of Australia if Conroy's internet censorship plan gets approved? No business (not even Google) can afford to have a case of ethics/politics for too long.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It changes nothing for Chinese users

    A search for "天安门" returns only the same peaceful pictures as before.

    A search for "天安门 1989" gets you a nice "Connection reset by peer".

    They don't entirely depend on self-censorship, you see?

    1. Quirkafleeg

      Re: It changes nothing for Chinese users

      And if there's a ‘cached’ link…?

  20. Francis Irving

    Did they steal source code?

    Scroll down to "The Truth About The Google Affair" on this page, to read an account translated from a Chinese blog of what happened to Chinese Google engineers when the hack attempt story first came out. There are also accusations of code theft by Communist party agents.

    I've no idea whether the blog post is true - there's a battle going on here, so it is hard to tell. But what it does reveal is that Google might have sound, unspoken business motives for leaving China. If their network was compromised, and their source code stolen, it could damage their global operations.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    drop in the bucket really...

    yanked from various sources:

    Google's decision to shutter its Chinese search website and redirect users to its Hong Kong-based search page leaves the fate of its 600 China-based employees in the balance.

    Some of it's workers are "gasp" defecting to surprise there either...

    Now if only one could convince other companies to stop doing business with China...A good start would be the following:

    Guided by a belief that the electronics products would be an integral part of everyday life in every office and in every home, Terry Gou founded Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Ltd., the anchor company of Foxconn Technology Group in 1974 with US$7,500, a devotion in integrating expertise for mechanical and electrical parts and an uncommon concept to provide the lowest "total cost" solution to increase the affordability of electronics products for all mankind. (this is why your electronics hardly cost anything...Chinese labor is cheap)

    The company, more commonly known by its trade name, Foxconn, is one of the world's largest contract electronics manufacturers. It manufactures computer, consumer electronics, and communications products, including connectors, cable assemblies, enclosures, flat-panel displays, game consoles, motherboards, servers, and TVs. Hon Hai, doing business as Foxconn Technology Group, also provides design engineering and mechanical tooling services. The global company's customers include Apple, Cisco, Dell, Nokia, and Sony.

    This is worth a read for when the tentacles of Foxconn head westward...

  22. Neil Greatorex

    Has nobody realised?

    That this is all puff and nonsense?

    As a Chinese colleague in Shanghai said to me today, after I mentioned the news:

    "Ah so master", OK, sorry, I made that particular bit up. He did actually say:

    "Noone in China use Google, we all use Yahoo!", I said "What about Baido?", he said "Who?"

    To quote, specifically about the censorship lark:

    "Not censoling/censoling, makes no sodding diffelence, before if I search for <whatever I'm not allowed to search for> I get fluffy bunnies, and I have to rook over my shoulder, now I get 'page unavairabre', I still can't broody see it! but I still have to rook over my shoulder, so no broody diffelence"

    I apologise for the L & R transpositions, sincerely, but it was _exactly_ how I heard it :-)

    It Totally Was!!!

  23. Fuion

    @amanfromMars 1

    What is up with the new flash spam on your blogspot?

    I am back!

  24. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    "Websense" software in the workplace can censor Google cached webpages.

    I assume that Chinese censors are at least as competent as that.

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