Google made a bold approach to its search services in China on Monday. The company said it's shut down Google.cn and redirecting those users to Google.com.hk, where it is offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese.
The move on Google's end comes as a response to cyber attacks originating from China on January 12. Google said it uncovered evidence suggesting Gmail accounts of several dozen human rights activists connected with China were being accessed by third parties.
Google commented on its blog,
"we want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet 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 sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China."
The search giant is well aware the Chinese government could eventually block access to Google.com.hk. Google said it would be monitoring access issues on a new Webpage it would update regularly every day, so users could see what services are still available in China. Google's Youtube and Blogger are both blocked in China already.
Google said it would continue its R&D work in China and maintain a sales presence there, but depending on whether China blocks access to Google.com.hk, the size sales team could be scaled down. It also made clear the decision to redirect users to the uncensored Google site was made by executives in the US, probably to prevent any sort of government retribution against Chinese Google employees.
Some other sites that have been blocked in China include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and many more.