Foreign Policy Blogs

Google Search is Out of China

Zaijian Google.

Zaijian Google.

Game’s up. Google has shut down its web search on the mainland. Google blog postNYT story.

The company is attempting to route Chinese users to a simplified Chinese* Hong Kong site, where local legislation does not require them to censor their results. A clever attempt at an elegant face-saving solution, considering the fulmination about the necessity of obeying laws.

Unsurprisingly, China’s having none of it, and they’re blocking some results from

Foreign Policy’s Passport blog has written up some of the predictably hysterical responses. The PRC government and Xinhua (but I repeat myself) weighed in on the move.

Wired has a good overview of what Internet censorship actually means within China. Google has a convenient status page where you can see what is currently being blocked.

The New York Times tech blog had an interesting interview with Google founder Sergey Brin:

[I]n matters of censorship, political speech and Internet communications, he said, there is a totalitarian mentality [in China] that controls policy. “Our objection is to those forces of totalitarianism,” he said.

Brin is a long-term optimist, though.

Mr. Brin added that efforts by China, Iran and other governments to control online speech — a “half an Internet” approach, he said – will likely fail eventually. “I think that in the long term, they are going to have to open,” he said.

I hope he’s right. I’m not sure why that’s the case. Autarky is hard for economies; with an ecosystem of hudreds of millions of online citizens, a China-only Internet might be able to do just fine on its own.

* NB: I am sorry to inform you that Simplified Chinese is not simple.