Google began its invasion of China few years ago with big compromises. It agreed to filter specific topics out of the search results. The measure was requested by the communist Chinese government, so they could have better control over the nformation flow within China, and block access of progressive Chinese people to unfiltered by government sources information.
Such compromise was widely criticized these days by many people around the world as non democratic, but given the enormous dimensions of Chinese market, many western companies did the same thing to be allowed to it. With the time everything seemed OK for both sides, and Google.cn was gaining popularity during the years in China. When this popularity reached certain point, both participants began to shift their positions slightly. Chinese authorities wanted bigger control, and even more topics and keywords added to filtering. Google wanted to remove filtering routines at all (not only because they are for the free of speech, more searches and results equals more revenue from ads too) and was pressing hard.
Then came a key moment, when Chinese hackers decided to have some fun with Google’s information servers. Maybe the attack was well planned by Chinese authorities, maybe not, no one will ever know that. But the result was that Google had formal reason to stop work in China and show the government what public opinion can do, even in communist country.
The New compromise
After searches became impossible for normal Chinese citizen, and with the hardened position of the government, it seemed Google is making the surprising decision to leave Chinese market for good. The government of China was also hurt by the crisis, as most of their people believed Google was intentionally kicked out. Both sides were loosing this way – Google was loosing enormous developing market, and authorities suffered from the bad public reaction to their actions.
The tie ended few days ago, when Google.cn returned. Well, kind of returned anyway. When you enter the site from China, you are presented with what looks perfectly normal Google search box. Only when you click on it you understand that it is just an image, hyperlinked to another site – Google.hk – the Hong Kong version of the site, which is totally unfiltered. This way both sides are happy to some extent – Google gets back their Chinese followers, even with the need of one more click. And Chinese authorities can always say they never allowed Google to resume their normal operations in China – after all Google.cn site only contains static content.
Of course when a Chinese uses this hole in Chinese firewall, he or she should always remember that local filters and loggers are always active, ad one who attempts anti-government many actions for example will most probably be caught and prosecuted for their actions.