March 23, 2010
-- Google’s partial retreat from the Chinese market has evoked two predominant reactions: the Chinese government has condemned the act, and Chinese citizens have begun to worry about their access to foreign search engines. The roots of the conflict extend back more than two months ago, when Google, Inc. first expressed outrage at the Chinese restrictions in web content. Chinese citizens caught in the middle of this conflict. They symbolically lay flowers on the metal ‘Google’ sign outside the former office in Beijing. “I don’t know what the Chinese government will do to Google next,” says Zhou Shuguang, a popular blogger. “But I support Google because an uncensored search engine is something that I need.”
Google will now redirect search queries to its Hong Kong office, where Google is not legally required to censor searches. The move does not allow Chinese citizens unrestricted access to web content. What it does do is “shift the burden of censorship from Google to the Chinese government”, reports Clayton Emerson, VP of Development at Tortola Capital.
What will the move mean for US-China political relations? Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China had a right to filter content deemed harmful to society and national security and Google's response should not harm wider relations with the United States. "The Google incident is just an individual action taken by a business company, and I can't see its impact on China-U.S. relations unless someone wants to politicize that," Qin said.