In a statement released today, Google announced that it would stop redirecting search traffic from China’s landing page google.cn to Hong Kong’s page google.com.hk. Google initially started redirecting traffic in January in an attempt to “increase access to information while abiding by Chinese law.” Google explains:
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 license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China. […] Over the next few days we’ll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page—and today we re-submitted our ICP license renewal application based on this approach.
China, with its population of over 1.31 billion people, obviously has quite a bit of leverage over companies who want access to their large consumer base. What do you think of the situation? Should Google call China’s bluff in the name of information freedom? Or is it more important to keep the lights on at google.cn?