Google will stop routing Chinese search queries via its Hong Kong servers, in a bid to appease authorities who threatened to cancel its operating license in the country.
The firm has begun directing some users to a landing site on its mainland Google.cn servers, where they are then given the option to transfer to the Hong Kong site if they wish to perform more in-depth searches, but plans to end the re-direct entirely in a matter of days.
Google reacted after the Chinese government threatened not to renew its Internet Content Provider license in the country, which expires tomorrow, unless it stops offering uncensored search results through its offshore servers, David Drummond, SVP of corporate development and chief legal officer, said in an official blog.
“It’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable,” Drummond said, explaining that without the license, “Google would effectively go dark in China.”
The search firm has been at loggerheads with China’s government since it began offering unfiltered search results via its Hong Kong site in March, to circumvent the country’s strict censorship laws.
Google escalated the feud last week, when director of corporate policy and communications Robert Boorstin revealed it was working with the US Trade Representative, the State and Commerce departments, and the EU on a case that argues China’s censorship is a barrier to global trade, Reuters reported.
China’s government defended its Web censorship policy earlier this month, claiming it was necessary for state security.