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To prevent further deterioration of its business in China, Google has decided to end its practice of redirecting Chinese search site users to its uncensored Hong Kong search site.
Google began the practice began in March, following its decision to stop censoring search results in China.
Chinese authorities immediately protested.
"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 an unnamed government official with China's State Council Information Office in a report published in March by the state-run Xinhua news service. "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."
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Disruptions of Google's Web services followed, prompting Google to launch a dashboard to display the status of its offerings. Out of 12 services listed, only Web Search, Images, News, Ads, and Gmail are currently fully functional in China as of Tuesday; YouTube, Sites, Docs, Blogger, Picasa, Groups, and Mobile are either partially or completely blocked.
Facing further threats from the Chinese government, Google SVP and chief legal officer David Drummond said in a blog post on Tuesday that Google will stop redirecting Chinese users to Google.com.hk. Instead, Google plans to route them to a new landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk.
"[I]t's clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable -- and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed," he said. "Without an ICP license, we can't operate a commercial website like Google.cn -- so Google would effectively go dark in China."
Drummond says that this approach allows Google to "stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page."
Google is also reportedly seeking a license to operate its mapping services in China. Last month, China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping issued new rules that require operators of services that provide online mapping and location services to submit an application to continue to operate. China has been cracking down on user-generated maps, specifically those that present borders, place names or information not consistent with the Chinese government's view of the world.