Bowing to the pressure from 'authorities', the Internet search giant has 'unofficially' exited from mainland China. However, the future of its relocated services would continue to be under the Chinese radar
Internet search giant Google Inc has said that it has relocated its China-based services to Hong Kong and users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk. Google said that it is offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via its servers in Hong Kong.
Earlier in January, the search giant had accused China of cyber-attacks. Google said that like many well-known organisations, it also faces cyber-attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, Google detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on its corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.
"However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident—albeit a significant one—was something quite different," the search engine giant had said.
Google said that as part of its investigation, it discovered that at least 20 other large companies from a wide range of businesses—including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors—have been similarly targeted.
"These attacks and the surveillance they uncovered—combined with attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the Web in China including the persistent blocking of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger—had led us to conclude that we could no longer continue censoring our results on Google.cn," the search giant said in its official blog on Tuesday.
Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk.
Google said that it was in talks with the Chinese authorities regarding the censorship issues.
However, the Chinese government has been clear throughout their discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.
The new approach to provide services from Hong Kong is entirely legal, Google said. However, it also made it clear that the Chinese authorities can block access to its services any time. "We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China," Google said.
The Internet search giant said that it would continue its research and development (R&D) work and also maintain a sales team in mainland China.
Safeguarding its employees from China, Google has also given a declaration which reads: "Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them."
Meanwhile, according to a PTI report, influential Chinese authors have demanded settling copyright issues, alleging that the US-based search engine scanned their books without permission.
Some most influential writers said they are still waiting Google to provide a solution to copyright disputes in which the popular Internet company scanned books without the authors' permission, official China Daily reported today.
According to a list by Google at the end of 2009, its online library includes 80,000 Chinese books, 10% of which are authored by 2,600 members of the Chinese Writers' Association (CWA). The authors alleged they were neither informed nor paid money by Google, while the copyright society said the number of scanned books could surpass 200,000.
China’s media points out that Google’s book project recently reached an agreement with the Italian culture ministry to scan one million books in the national libraries of Rome and Florence for the payment of an estimated $135 million. Chinese authors expect the search engine too will shell out heavy compensation before leaving China, PTI reports said.
The Islamic investment bank has received an in-principle environmental approval from the Maharashtra government for its $10-billion Economic Development Zone at Panvel near Navi Mumbai
Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH), an Islamic investment bank, on Tuesday said that it has received an in-principle environmental approval from the Maharashtra government for its $10-billion Economic Development Zone (EDZ) near Panvel in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.
"We have got verbal approval from the concerned state agency. We expect to get the order soon," GFH chairman, Dr Esam Janahi, told PTI.
"The State Environment Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has reviewed the presentations made to it by the company and has also undertaken a visit to the site. All information requested by the SEAC has been satisfactorily provided and the company expects to receive the formal approval very soon," he said.
The EDZ near Panvel is promoted by a consortium led by GFH. It has three distinct components —Energy City, IT & Telecom City and Entertainment City. On completion of this state-of-the-art project, it will generate over one million direct and indirect employment opportunities, Dr Janahi said.
"This project is expected to provide direct employment to over 2,50,000 people and indirect employment to as many as 7,50,000 people," he said.
The company has almost completed the land acquisition for the first phase, he said. "As of date, around 1,650 acres of land have been acquired out of which 1,525 acres of land have been acquired privately. On completion, the project will house around 1,40,000 residents," he said.
Based on the overall response to the project so far, he said, "In the future, we may think of acquiring more land provided it is available without displacing the existing villages. The compensation package was in line with the government circle rates and in many cases even exceeds the circle rates."
The EDZ land area will not be ring-fenced from the point of view of customs and tax angles and the land title within the EDZ will be transferable on completion of the infrastructure development, he said.
The funding is partly through debt and equity, he said, adding that domestic financial institutions have been approached to raise the debt.
"The entire land has been funded through equity and a part of the infrastructure development is being undertaken through debt. We have approached domestic financial institutions for funding of the infrastructure development. The debt portion envisaged as of now will be less than the equity component," he said.
The Dubai crisis would not have any impact on the implementation of the project, Dr Janahi said, adding that "the fundamentals of the project remain intact and largely independent of the developments in Dubai.”