Google China

Coordinates: 39°59′34″N 116°19′24″E / 39.99278°N 116.32333°E / 39.99278; 116.32333

Google China
Type Private
Founded 2005
Founder Google
Headquarters Beijing, People's Republic of China
Area served People's Republic of China
Industry Internet, Computer software
Parent Google Inc.
(redirected to since March 2010, some services have been partially or fully blocked in mainland China[1])
Alexa rank increase 131 (November 2011)[2]

Google China (Chinese: 谷歌; pinyin: Gǔgē) is a subsidiary of Google, Inc., the world's largest Internet search engine company. Google China ranks as the number 2 search engine in the People's Republic of China, after Baidu. In 2010, searching via all Google search sites, including Google Mobile, were moved from Mainland China to Hong Kong.



Google China was founded in 2005 and was originally headed by Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft executive and the founder in 1998 of Microsoft Research Asia.[3] Microsoft sued Google and Kai-Fu Lee for the move, but reached a confidential settlement.[4] Google's Beijing based office was initially located at NCI Tower.

In 2005, a Chinese-language interface was developed for the website. In Jan 2006, Google launched its China-based search page with results subject to censorship by the Chinese government.

The Beijing office was moved to Tsinghua Science Park in early 2006. The newest office has been in use since September 2006. It is a 10-floor building located in Tsinghua Science Park, near the south gate of Tsinghua University.

In Mar 2009, China blocked access to Google's YouTube site; access to other Google online services is denied to users on an ad hoc basis.

On September 4, 2009, after four years leading Google China, Kai-Fu Lee announced his surprise departure to start a venture fund amid debate about the Chinese government's censorship policies and Google's decreasing share to rival Baidu.[3]

In Jan 2010, Google announced that they and other US tech companies had been hacked and that Google is no longer willing to censor searches in China and may pull out of the country.[5]

On March 23, 2010 at 3 am Hong Kong Time (UTC+8), Google started to redirect all search queries from to (Google Hong Kong), thereby bypassing Chinese regulators and allowing uncensored Simplified Chinese search results.[6][7][8] As a special entity recognized by international treaty, Hong Kong is vested with independent judicial power[9] and not subject to most Chinese laws,[10] including those requiring the restriction of free flow of information and censorship of internet materials.

David Drummond, senior vice president of Google, stated in the official Google blog that the current circumstances surrounding censorship of the Internet in Mainland China led Google to make such a decision. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region in China with a comparably higher level of freedom of speech and expression, and does not censor search results, making it more effective for networking and sharing information with Internet users in mainland China.[8][11] Google's internet mail service, Gmail, is available to mainland China users. Google has maintained that it would continue with the research and development offices in China along with the sales offices for other Google products such as Android smartphone software.[12]

On March 30, 2010, searching via all Google search sites (not only but all language versions, e.g., etc.), including Google Mobile, was banned in Mainland China. Any attempt to search using Google resulted in a DNS error. Other Google services such as Google Mail and Google Maps appeared to be unaffected.[13] Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at UC Berkeley and founder of the China Digital Times, noted that the ban in mainland China could eventually block all access to Google sites and applications if the Chinese Government wanted.[13] The ban was lifted the day after.[14]

On June 30, 2010, Google ended the automatic redirect of Google China to Google Hong Kong, and instead placed a link to Google Hong Kong to avoid getting their Internet Content Provider (ICP) license revoked.


Google China headquarters in Tsinghua Science Park, Beijing

Google China serves a market of mainland Chinese Internet users that was estimated in July 2009 to number 338 million.[15] This estimate is up from 45.8 million in June 2002, according to a survey report from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released on June 30, 2002.[16] A CNNIC report published a year and a half earlier, on January 17, 2001, estimated that the mainland Chinese Internet user base numbered 22.5 million people; this was considerably higher than the number published by Iamasia, a private Internet ratings company.[17] The first CNNIC report, published on October 10, 1997, estimated the number of Chinese internet users at fewer than 650 thousand people.

The competitors of Google China include, often called the "Google of China" because of its resemblance and similarity to Google.[18][19] In August 2008, Google China launched a legal music download service, Google Music, to rival Baidu's potentially illicit offering.[20]

GOOGLE China local product——Google MUSIC's conference

Google China has a market share in China of 29% according to Analysys International.[21]


Before Google China's establishment, itself was accessible, even though much of its content was not accessible because of censorship. According to official statistics, was accessible 90% of the time, and a number of services were not available at all.[22]

Since announcing its intent to comply with Internet censorship laws in the People's Republic of China, Google China had been the focus of controversy over what critics view as capitulation to the "Golden Shield Project". Because of its self-imposed censorship, whenever people searched for prohibited Chinese keywords on a blocked list maintained by the PRC government, displayed the following at the bottom of the page (translated): In accordance with local laws, regulations and policies, part of the search result is not shown. Some searches, such as (as of June 2009) "Tank Man" were blocked entirely, with only the message "Search results may not comply with the relevant laws, regulations and policy, and can not be displayed" appearing.

Google argued that it could play a role more useful to the cause of free speech by participating in China's IT industry than by refusing to comply and being denied admission to the mainland Chinese market. "While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission," a statement said.[23]

A PBS analysis reported clear differences between results returned for controversial keywords by the censored and uncensored search engines.[24] Google set up computer systems inside China that try to access Web sites outside the country. If a site is inaccessible (e.g., because of the Golden Shield Project), then it was added to Google China's blacklist.[25]

In June 2006, Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, was quoted as saying virtually all of Google's customers in China were using the non-censored version of their website.[26]

Google critics in the United States claimed that Google China is a flagrant violation of the Google motto, "Don't be evil." [27]

On April 9, 2007, Google China spokesman Cui Jin admitted that the pinyin Google Input Method Editor (IME) "was built leveraging some non-Google database resources". This was in response to a request on April 6 from the Chinese search engine company Sohu that Google stop distributing its pinyin IME software because it allegedly copied portions from Sohu's own software.[28]

In early 2008, Guo Quan, a university professor who had been dismissed after having founded a democratic opposition party, announced plans to sue Yahoo! and Google in the United States for having blocked his name from search results in mainland China.[29]

Operation Aurora

On January 12, 2010, Google announced that it was "no longer willing to continue censoring" results on, citing a breach of Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The company found that the hackers had breached two Gmail accounts but were only able to access 'from' and 'to' information and subject headers of emails in these accounts.[30] The company's investigation into the attack showed that at least 34 other companies had been similarly targeted. Among the companies that were attacked were Adobe Systems, Symantec, Yahoo, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical. Experts claim the aim of the attacks was to gain information on weapon systems, political dissidents, and valuable source code that powers software applications.[31] Additionally, dozens of Gmail accounts in China, Europe, and the United States had been regularly accessed by third parties, by way of phishing or malware on the users' computers rather than a security breach at Google. Although Google did not explicitly accuse the Chinese government of the breach, it said it was no longer willing to censor results on, and that it will discuss over the next few weeks "the basis on which we could run an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China."[32][33] transiently turned off its search result filtering. However, the filtering was later re-enabled without any acknowledgment or explanation; search queries in Chinese on the keywords Tiananmen or June 4, 1989 returned censored results with the standard censorship footnote.[34]

On January 13, 2010, the news agency AHN reported that the U.S. Congress plans to investigate Google's allegations that the Chinese government used the company's service to spy on human rights activists.[35] In a major speech by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, analogies were drawn between the Berlin Wall and the free and unfree Internet.[36] Chinese articles came back saying that the U.S. uses the internet as a means to create worldwide hegemony based on western values.[37] The issue of Google's changed policy toward China has been cited as a potentially major development in world affairs, marking a split between authoritarian capitalism and the Western model of free capitalism and Internet access.[38]

The Chinese government has since made numerous standard and general statements on the matter, but has taken no real actions. It also criticized Google for failing to provide any evidence of its accusation.[39] Accusations were made by Baidu, a competing Chinese search engine, that Google was pulling out for financial rather than humanitarian reasons. Baidu is the market leader in China with about 60% of the market share compared to Google's 31%, Yahoo placing third with less than 10%.[40] China Daily published a scathing op-ed on Google which criticized western leaders for politicizing the way in which China controls citizen's access to the Internet, saying "implementing monitoring according to a country's national context is what any government has to do," and that China's need to censor the internet is greater than that of developed countries, "The Chinese society has generally less information bearing capacity than developed countries such as the U.S. ..."[41]

In media

Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science from City University of Hong Kong pointed out that the ruling Chinese Communist Party was deploying Chinese nationalism to stifle debate about censorship.[42] By criticizing cultural export (in this case, the localization of Google in China), it provides defence to justify the Chinese authorities' censorship control.[42]

The Chinese authority is accused of steering state-run media to bundle Google together with other recent disputes with United States that have stirred nationalist rancour in China. On the website of the Global Times ( such examples are found, one user wrote "Get the hell out" while another one wrote "Ha ha, I'm going to buy firecrackers to celebrate!".[42]

According to Isaac Mao, a high profile Chinese Internet expert, maybe 90% of Internet users in China don't care whether Google leaves or not. For Chinese users who strongly support Google's stay in China without censorship (or leaving China to keep its neutrality and independence), some are accustomed to use circumvention technology to access blocked websites.[43]

See also


  1. ^ Google. "Google Mainland China service availability". Google. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  2. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  3. ^ a b Donnelly, Laura (2009-09-05). "China Google boss departure reignites debate over censorship". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-03-30. 
  4. ^ CNET Microsoft settles with Google over executive hire (December 22, 2005)
  5. ^ Worthen, Ben (26 February 2010). "Researcher Says Up to 100 Victims in Google Attack". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 March 2010. 
  6. ^ China condemns decision by Google to lift censorship
  7. ^ Final sentence of the article reads "Google宣佈停止在中國提供過濾搜尋,並把搜尋引擎移到香港" (Google announced that searches in Google China will not be subject to censorship, and re-direct the entire search engine to Google Hong Kong.) "向極權說不 Google棄北京投香港" (in Chinese). Apple Daily (Hong Kong: NEXTmedia). 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  8. ^ a b Drummond, David (22 March 2010). "A new approach to China: an update". The Official Google Blog. Retrieved 24 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Chapter II Article 19
  10. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Chapter II Article 18
  11. ^ has been redirected to, Easy SEO Solution
  12. ^ "Google reroutes China search, Beijing fumes". p. 1. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Pierson, David (March 31, 2010). "Google searches appear to be blocked in China". Los Angeles Times.,0,7057329.story. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Web search, Images and News 3/30/10 availability". Google. March 30, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010. [dead link]
  15. ^ Reuters. "China govt centre says 162 mln Internet users." Reuters, July 19, 2007.
  16. ^ Ministry of Culture, People's Republic of China. "How Many Internet Users Are There in China?.", 2003.
  17. ^ China Internet Information Center. "How Many Internet Users Are There in China?." China Internet Information Center (, February 8, 2001.
  18. ^ Tom Krazit. "Baidu CEO touts growth of China's search engine". Retrieved 2010-03-24. "Li ended a trip to the U.S. Wednesday at Stanford University, speaking to a crowd of several hundred students about the lessons he learned shepherding Baidu through the first dot-com bust and growing it into the Google of China." 
  19. ^ "GOOG v. BIDU: Is Baidu No Longer the ‘Google of China’?". Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  20. ^ The Guardian Google offers free music downloads in China, Wednesday, 6 August 2008.
  21. ^ "Lee quits as president of Google China". 2009-09-05. Retrieved 2010-03-30. 
  22. ^ Official Google Blog: Google in China, January 27, 2006
  23. ^ BBC News "Google censors itself for China." January 25, 2006
  24. ^ FRONTLINE: the tank man: A Sampling of What's Censored/Filtered PBS
  25. ^ The New York Times Google's China Problem (and China's Google Problem)
  26. ^ Bridis, Ted (June 6, 2006). "Google compromised its principles in China, founder says". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved February 7, 2010. 
  27. ^ Cohn, William A. (2 – Autumn/2007) Yahoo's China Defense. "The New Presence."
  28. ^ Lemon, Sumner (2007-04-08). "Rival Asks Google to Yank 'Copycat' Application". PC World (IDG).,130497-c,google/article.html. 
  29. ^ Times Online. Dissident Chinese professor to sue Yahoo! and Google for erasing his name February 6, 2008
  30. ^ "CNBC Video: Interview With Google's Chief Legal Officer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  31. ^ "Google China cyberattack part of vast espionage campaign, experts say". 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-03-30. 
  32. ^ "Official Google Blog: A new approach to China". Google. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  33. ^ "Google 'may end China operations over Gmail breaches'". BBC. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  34. ^ a Google.CN search
  35. ^ "Congress to Investigate Google Charges Of Chinese Internet Spying". AHN. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  36. ^ US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at Newseum, WA. D.C., Mar. 21st, 2010. 'Remarks on Internet Freedom'
  37. ^ [Lexis Nexis Academic]
  38. ^ "Johnny Ryan and Stefan Halper, 'Google vs China: capitalist model, virtual wall'". OpenDemocracy. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  39. ^ "5維權網遭黑客攻擊". Mingpao Daily. 24 January 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  40. ^ "Google 'may pull out of China after Gmail cyber attack'". BBC News. 13 January 2010. 
  41. ^ "Google, do not take Chinese netizens hostage". People's Daily, January 19, 2010. 
  42. ^ a b c Blanchard, Ben (22 March 2010). "Chinese media launches new attack on Google". Reuters (USA). 
  43. ^ " R.I.P or good riddance?". CNN (USA). 

External links

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