Google Hong Kong site already being censored

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Google Hong Kong site already being censored

Move to evade Chinese censors only partially successful.

Google has admitted to experiencing "intermittent" censorship of its Google.com.hk site, just days after pulling out of China because it considered the country's censorship demands to be unreasonable.

The search giant stopped censoring its search engines services on Google.cn earlier this week, and began redirecting visitors to Google.com.hk.

The move followed months of failed negotiations between Google and the Chinese government over the issue of censorship.

Google.com.hk delivered uncensored search in simplified Chinese via Google servers in Hong Kong. The site has been specifically designed for users in mainland China.

However, Alan Davidson, director of public policy at Google, said yesterday that the tactic was already being attacked.

"We are well aware that the Chinese government can, at any time, block access to our services. Indeed we have already seen intermittent censorship of certain search queries on both Google.com.hk and Google.com," Davidson said in a testimony to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (PDF).

"The Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.

"We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a practical solution to the challenges we've faced. It's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China."

Relations between Google and China started to deteriorate when hackers were said to have compromised Gmail accounts belonging to human rights campaigners, as well as around 30 other web firms' customer accounts.

Serious questions were raised about the likelihood of the attacks being in some way sanctioned by the Chinese government.

Google took a tough stance after the incident and threatened to pull out of China altogether if its search product had to continue complying with the government's political censorship demands.

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