Faced with the possible loss of its license to operate in China, Google says it will no longer automatically redirect Chinese users (“Google.cn“) to its unfiltered site in Hong Kong (“Google.com.hk“). Instead, Chinese users will have to click on a tab to gain access to the Hong Kong site. China is likely to view this as another end run around government censors.
Back in March, Google tried to get around China’s censors by moving its Chinese language search engine to Hong Kong. The move quickly grew into a diplomatic dispute between Beijing and Washington.
As of today, Google’s mainland China site has nothing but a hyperlink which says that the site has moved. You have to click on it, at which point you will be redirected to the Hong Kong site. Before, users were automatically rerouted there. So for the user, the difference is just that one mouse click.
The Google controversy has remained highly politicized, since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used it to press China on Internet freedoms. Harvard Business School Internet expert Ben Edelman says that Google’s latest manoeuvre is unlikely to placate Beijing. However, this is no rights issue anymore, seems like this will become more of a political issue than a commercial one, even considering the fact that Google has only 30% of the search business in China, the rest 60% is retained by Baidu. Even then , Google would not want to loose the 30% as even that in a country like China is huge business. We can only hope that sense will prevail before further damage.