Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Google China Still Censored, Blamed for Reneging

So what has Google accomplished with its semi-audacious stunt of "uncensoring" search results in mainland China? Out of curiosity, I've asked some friends in China if they've experienced any changes there and they say "not really." Agence-France Presse has similar impressions regarding search results:

Chinese access to websites covering sensitive topics such as Tibet have remained blocked despite an announcement from Google that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine. The web giant announced today that it had stopped filtering results on China-based Google.cn and was redirecting mainland Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong - effectively closing down the mainland site.

Searches of subjects like "Falun Gong" and "June 4" on Tuesday - referring to the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests in 1989 - from mainland computers ended with the message: "Internet Explorer cannot display the web page". Even when a list of results came up for other sensitive key words such as "Tibet riot" and "Amnesty International" not all of the sites could be opened and the response "cannot display the website" again was seen.

Websites of organisations deemed by China's ruling Communist Party to be hostile to the nation - such as the Epoch Times, Peacehall and groups supporting the Tiananmen Democracy Movement - were all still blocked. And popular websites such as Google's video-sharing service YouTube also continued to be inaccessible from Beijing despite the re-routing through Google.com.hk.

The same searches on Google.com.hk from computers in Hong Kong displayed full results - suggesting that China was itself using its "Great Firewall" of web censorship to keep users from having unfettered internet access.
Meanwhile, Chinese official media is accusing Google of reneging on promises it made to gain access to the Chinese market:
Google has "violated its written promise" and is "totally wrong" by stopping censoring its Chinese language searching results and blaming China for alleged hacker attacks, a government official said early Tuesday morning. The official in charge of the Internet bureau under the State Council Information Office made the comments about two hours after the online search service provider announced it has stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and is redirecting Chinese mainland users to a site in Hong Kong.

"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks," said the official. "This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts," the official said.

The Information Office official said relevant departments of the Chinese government talked with Google twice at its requests, on Jan. 29 and Feb. 25 respectively, to hear the company's real intentions and demonstrate sincerity of the government. "We made patient and meticulous explanations on the questions Google raised (in the talks), ...telling it we would still welcome its operation and development in China if it was willing to abide by Chinese laws, while it would be its own affairs if it was determined to withdraw its service," the official said. "Foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China, " the official said.
Google China, we hardly knew ye.

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