For the past two months, Google has threatened to stop censoring search results in China in response to a series of attacks that it believes were influenced by or connected to the Chinese government. Google has made good on that threat and announced on its blog that it has officially stopped censoring those results. Chinese users who visit Google.cn are now redirected to a Hong Kong-based Google.com.hk. There, users will be able to access Google Search, Google News, and Google Images without the self-censored filter previously used to block content that might enflame the state government. This has led to a massive increase of load on Google’s Hong Kong servers, which will lead to slowdowns.
There were previous suggestions that Google would stop censoring and perhaps even move out of China if problems persisted. For now, Google has affirmed its plans to continue operations in mainland China. How long that will last is uncertain as the Chinese government has said that self-censorship is a “non-negotiable legal requirement” to operate in China.
Google claims that forwarding customers to Hong Kong, a special administrative region attached to China, is a “completely legal” maneuver, but it’s unlikely to please the Chinese government. In anticipation of possible access issues that this new situation may create, Google has created a new webpage to monitor problems discovered by Chinese users.