Google searches in China blocked despite end of censorship

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The Independent Online

Chinese access to websites covering sensitive topics such as Tibet remained blocked Tuesday despite an announcement from Google that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine.

The web giant announced Monday that it had stopped filtering results on China-based Google.cn and was redirecting mainland Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong - effectively closing down the mainland site.

Searches of subjects like "Falun Gong" and "June 4" - referring to the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests in 1989 - from mainland computers ended with the message: "Internet Explorer cannot display the web page".

Even when a list of results came up for other sensitive key words such as "Tibet riot" and "Amnesty International" not all of the sites could be opened and the response "cannot display the website" again was seen.

Websites of organisations deemed by China's ruling Communist Party to be hostile to the nation - such as the Epoch Times, Peacehall and groups supporting the Tiananmen Democracy Movement - were all still blocked.

And popular websites such as Google's video-sharing service YouTube also continued to be inaccessible from Beijing despite the re-routing through Google.com.hk.

The same searches on Google.com.hk from computers in Hong Kong displayed full results - suggesting that China was itself using its "Great Firewall" of web censorship to keep users from having unfettered Internet access.

Google's action came a little more than two months after the Internet giant said it had been the victim of cyberattacks originating from China.

"Earlier today we stopped censoring our search services - Google Search, Google News, and Google Images - on Google.cn," Google chief legal officer David Drummond said in a post on the company's official blog.

"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."

China quickly denounced the move, saying Google had "violated its written promise" and was "totally wrong" to stop censoring its Chinese language search engine and to blame Beijing for alleged hacker attacks.

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