UPDATE 5:30PM: On Monday afternoon, Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, said, “We are disappointed that Google and the Chinese government were unable to reach an agreement that would allow Google to continue operating its search services in China on its google.cn Website.” He added, “The U.S.-China relationship is mature enough to sustain differences, and while we seek to expand cooperation on issues of mutual interest with China, we will candidly and frankly address areas of disagreement.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, citing the official Chinese Xinhua news agency, that an official from China’s State Council Information Office said Google had violated a “written promise” and was “totally wrong” to end censorship of its Chinese-language search engine.
Google will not be leaving China, but it will stop censoring search results in the world’s largest Internet market.
Google announced Monday it has begun redirecting visitors to its China Web page to an uncensored version of its site based outside of mainland China in Hong Kong. The company also said it planned to maintain a sales force in China, along with a research and development team.
“We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement …We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services.”
Google’s decision comes more than two-and-a-half months after the search giant uncovered a series of attacks on its site that allegedly originated in China. Beijing has yet to respond to Google’s decision, but in recent weeks has warned that the company must obey Chinese laws or “pay the consequences.”