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Asia-Pacific
Google softens position on China
Internet giant will end redirect to Hong Kong site as it seeks to renew Chinese license.
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2010 14:21 GMT
Is the sun setting on Google's presence in China? The company hopes not [AFP] 

Google has announced that it will stop automatically redirecting Chinese users to its Hong Kong site as part of an effort to get its license to operate in China renewed.

The company's Internet Content Provider licence is due for renewal on Wednesday and without it Google could lose access to China's 404 million internet users, the world's largest online population.

In a posting on Google's blog, David Drummond, the company's chief legal officer said that Chinese authorities had found the company's behaviour "unacceptable," and the redirect would be stopped. 

"It's clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable - and that if we continue redirecting users, our Internet Content Provider licence will not be renewed.

"Over the next few days we'll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page," he said, explaining that the new page on Google.cn would have a link to the Hong Kong site.

New approach

Drummond said that Google had resubmitted its application for renewal of the license to reflect the company's "new approach". 

in depth
  Inside Story: Will Google quit China?
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But analysts said that the move was unlikely to end the spat between Chinese authorities and the search giant, which says it has been subjected to cyber-attacks and censorship in the country.

Duncan Clark, the chairman of technology consultancy BDA China, said the Chinese government would likely use the licence renewal as an opportunity to show their displeasure at the redirect, which it has been powerless to prevent.

"Clearly aggrieved, the authorities have attempted now to show their power," he said.

Following Google's blog announcement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters: "A foreign internet company operating in China should abide by Chinese laws and regulations."

Beijing has denied any role in the cyberattacks which Google has said targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents. 

Chinese authorities said it was "totally wrong" for Google to stop filtering its Chinese-language search engine.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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