Originally published: March 23, 2010
Last updated: March 23, 2010 - 11:24pm
As Google began redirecting tens of millions of Chinese users on Tuesday to its uncensored Web site in Hong Kong, the company's remaining mainland operations came under pressure from its Chinese partners and from the government itself.
For weeks, Google had been holding out hope that the Chinese government would allow it to keep its pledge to end censorship while retaining its share of China's fast-growing Internet search market. But the government has shown no sign of budging. Mainland Chinese users still could not see much of the unfiltered Hong Kong search results Tuesday because government firewalls either disabled searches for highly objectionable terms completely or blocked links to certain results. That had typically been the case before Google's action, only now millions more visitors were liable to encounter the disrupted access to an uncensored site. Beijing officials were clearly angered Tuesday by Google's decision to close its Internet search service in China and redirect users to the Hong Kong site, a move that focused global attention on the government's censorship policies, and there were signs of possible escalation in the dispute.
China's biggest cellular communications company, China Mobile, was expected to cancel a deal that had placed Google's search engine on its mobile Internet home page, used by millions of people daily. In interviews, business executives close to industry officials said the company was planning to scrap the deal under government pressure, despite the fact that China Mobile has yet to contract with a replacement. Similarly, China's second-largest mobile company, China Unicom, was said by analysts and others to have delayed or killed the imminent introduction of a cellphone based on Google's Android platform. One major Internet portal, Tom.com, already had ceased using Google to power its search engine.
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