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.