Online Search: Google Closes Chinese Search Engine, Rolls Out Haitian Support
Article by George Norman
On 23 Mar 2010
Until now the fact that Google would close its Chinese search engine (Google.cn) was a rumor (see here and here). The rumor has now turned to fact – Google has announced that because it no longer wants to censor search results on Google.cn, it is redirecting users from mainland China away from Google.cn. The good news is that visitors will be able to get uncensored search results.

Google.cn visitors are redirected to Google.com.hk (that’s Google Hong Kong). Google Hong Kong does not show censored results.

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“We stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk,” explained David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer.

This will naturally put a lot of strain on Google’s servers from Hong Kong. Google warned that visitors to Google Hong Kong may see a service slowdown or may come to find that some products are inaccessible. This is only a temporary setback that will be addressed by the Google Honk Kong team as fast as possible.

The bad news is that this is only a temporary solution. The authorities could always put Google.com.hk behind the Great Firewall of China – just like they did with IMDB and IsoHunt for example. The solution of redirecting Google.cn visitors to Google Hong Kong is entirely legal, but it is not likely that the Chinese authorities will see this with good eyes. After all, they have warned Google on several occasions not to stop censoring search results on its Chinese search engine.

“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. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. In terms of Google's wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk,” added David Drummond.

Google is continually monitoring the situation to see if visitors from mainland China have access to Google Hong Kong. The company has even set up a special webpage (see here) where it lists what Google services are available on China (the webpage is updated on a daily basis).

Moving on to happier news, Google announced that visitors to Google.ht (that’s Google Haiti) can now search in English, French and Kreyòl, a language spoken by more than 10 million people in Haiti and other parts of the world such as Canada, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, France, French Guiana, Puerto Rico and the United States.

“The massive earthquake that recently stuck Haiti took a heavy toll on communication infrastructure (including TV, radio and newspapers). In the weeks following the earthquake, the Internet has become an important tool for Haitians to search for news and information. We previously added support for Haitian Kreyòl to Google Translate and we are happy that Google search can now be used the Haitian people in their native language,” commented Christine Multidor, Engineering Recruiting Coordinator, on behalf of the Internationalization Team.



Tags: Google, China, Censorhip, Google Hong Kong, Google Haiti
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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