While all the major Internet companies have taken flak for caving in to Beijing’s censorship demands in one way or another, Google has been unfairly pilloried over its new Chinese search portal, Google.cn, which it admits will filter results to toe the Party line. Lest our readers be confused about the whole matter, there are a few points that we’d like to clear up. First, the original Google.com is still available, unfiltered, here in China. Your search for “Free Tibet” or “Taiwan Independence” will yield the same results in Nanjing as it does in New York, whether done in English or Chinese. Of course, clicking on many of those results will lead to an “Error – Page not found”, because such pages are obviously blocked here. But simply copying the link and putting it into a proxy server will get around that with a minimum of fuss.
Second, although performing these illicit searches on the new, filtered Google.cn will not display any of these results (which is a pity), it’s not the end of the world. Presumably many Chinese net surfers already know that their content is being filtered, but even if they didn’t, they will now see a message from Google which says something like “To comply with certain laws, some results are not displayed here”, thereby openly admitting to the user that he is currently a victim of censorship.Now I ask you, dear reader: what better way to bring about the end of censorship than by constantly showing readers that they are not getting everything that’s out there?
Furthermore, filtering search results is a paltry matter compared to the actions of Yahoo!, which turned over the IP address of a Chinese reporter who was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Google is not offering its email service in Chinese in order to avoid this problem altogether.