China swiftly blocks certain Google searches

Ronny Kerr · March 23, 2010 · Short URL:

Google stops self-censoring, China takes the baton, Baidu showing great financial promise

Google ChinaAs expected, China is not reacting favorably to Google's bold and staunch refusal to no longer self-censor results on its Chinese search portals.

Google on Monday made good on its decision to stop censoring search results, a move catalyzed by company findings in January that cyber attacks on Chinese activists in the United States had originated in China itself. Instead of shutting down operations in China entirely, the company simply closed down and instead redirects all users in the country to Google Hong Kong, which is now uncensored by Google. The action is "entirely legal," noted Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond.

Legal or not, the move has, as expected, China responding swiftly. First of all, multiple sources report that Google Hong Kong is already being censored by China so that sensitive content, like any information related to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, is unavailable.

Though Google offers a page that lists availability of certain Google services--Web, Images, YouTube, and others--alongside their current status (no issues, partially blocked, blocked, etc.), the page has not been updated since Sunday.

Taking steps a bit further, the Chinese government may be urging China Mobile to end talks over a search deal with Google and China Unicom could cancel plans to launch an Android phone.

If anyone benefits from the the row between Google and China, it's Baidu, the most popular search engine in China. Goldman Sachs, which expects Google's Hong Kong search site to run slowly if at all, raised its price target for Baidu from $575 to $675, according to MarketWatch. The broker believes Baidu could take 33-75% of the traffic used to receive.

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