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Google stops censoring in China

Juan Carlos Perez | March 23, 2010
The company is redirecting from its Chinese site to Google.com.hk

During the impasse, Google's other operations in China have been largely unaffected, such as its Android mobile business. Despite the row between Google and the government, the country's IT Ministry said the Android operating system wouldn't be affected if it conforms to Chinese regulations. A variety of Chinese carriers and hardware makers, including China Unicom and Lenovo, moved forward with plans to market Android-based phones and laptops.

However, there has been uncertainty regarding Google mobile applications and services, including its search engine, in Android devices in China. Google postponed their availability after its Jan. 12 announcement.

Google is a distant second in China's search engine usage behind leader Baidu. Last year, Google fielded almost 19 percent of China residents' queries to Baidu's 76 percent, according to iResearch. Compared with 2008, Google's share dropped 1.8 percentage points, while Baidu increased its share by 2.8 points.

Still, Google fared much better than Yahoo China, which is controlled by China's Alibaba Group and had a 0.3 percent share, and Microsoft, whose Bing search engine had a 0.4 percent share of queries, according to iResearch.

Baidu finished 2009 with total revenue of 4.45 billion yuan and net income of almost 1.5 billion yuan, up about 40 percent in each case.

According to its government's official figures, China had 384 million Internet users at the end of 2009, making it the country with the largest Internet population.

In addition to requiring censoring of search results, the Chinese government also blocks access to social media sites like Google's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, monitors individuals' e-mail accounts and patrols Web sites for politically sensitive or pornographic content. China makes no apology for the way it regulates Internet content and activities, saying its policies are geared toward preventing social ills, such as subversion and unrest.

(Owen Fletcher in Beijing contributed to this article. IDG, the parent company of IDG News Service, is an investor in Baidu.)

 

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