Finally Google has decided to leave China. Soon after the announcement, Google stopped censoring the search result of google.cn by redirecting the site to google.com.hk. In Google's official blog, David Drummond, the corporate's chief legal officer explains that its decision is due to the Chinese government's “non-negotiable legal requirement” in self-censorship. However, Google's R&D work will continue to stay in China.
On the other hand, China (via Xinhua) says Google has “violated its written promise” and is totally wrong” by stopping censorship.
Meanwhile, google.com.hk is subjected to keyword filtering by the China Great Fire Wall, while its domain is still accessible in China. Rebecca MacKinnon points out that the ball is now on the Chinese government's court:
1) Whether they will block all of google.com.hk, which until now has not been blocked. If they are smart they will just leave the situation as is and stop drawing media attention to their censorship practices.
2) Whether they allow Google to retain its ad sales and R&D businesses in China.
Even though there were reports forecasting Google's departure, many Chinese netizens still feel sorry about the news. Jason Ng from Kenengba interviewed Chinese twitterers on their apprehensions regarding Google's decision and received more than 100 responses. Here is a summary of his findings:
有人担心百度会一家独大，搜索结果里的虚假信息会日益增多；很多人担心，他们喜爱的Google服务，比如Gmail, Reader, Calendar将无法使用；有站长担心Adsense项目会被搁置；也有人认为，这将使得中国互联网倒退10年。
Among the grassroots internet users, the retreat of Google is far away from what the Chinese government officials’ description that “Chinese internet will continue to grow healthily”. The Change that Google brings to the Internet is not limited to the creation of best search engine.
Google is a most well-respected Internet company. It keeps introducing new innovation and surprise to the Internet. To some extent, Google represents the trend in free Internet service, the direction of technological innovation and net neutrality stand. This is Google's three representations.
The blogger foresees an government launched propaganda campaign against Google in China:
2. News portal websites like 163, sina, sohu and etc. will not be allowed to publish pro-Google opinions.
3. Comments in news related to Google will be overwhelmingly pro-government.
However, many internet users still decided to show their support to Google by sending flowers to Google Headquarter in Beijing: Gaoming1916 interviewed a number of supporters:
Moreover, around 100 of Google supporters gathered at Google China Headquarter tonight for a candle night vigil. However, they were stopped by security guards and polices:
Twitter is a most important platform for uncensored opinions on Google departure and twitter users share their views with hashtag #googlecn. Below is a selection of comments:
@roseluqiu: 谷歌走了，在我看来只不过是修正之前的错误，遵守不做恶的承诺。其它的公司，既然没有这样的价值观和原则，所以也不必苛求他们。但是因为自己要求不高而批评google,那就是非常卑鄙的行为了。在google问题上，看到了很多小人。 #googlecn
@zhanghui8964 人如草，民如屁，官如匪，党如寇。–谷哥，你先走吧，这地方不适合你，但我们会在不久的将来热烈地迎接你有尊严地归来。 #googlecn
@heicailiao: For HKers like myself, Google's move shows how valuable HK's autonomy is. We must not budge, not an inch.
@SecretaryZhang 真理部指令：请各地清理借此事攻击党、国家、政府部门、互联网相关政策的文字、图片和音视频等。请各地清理声援谷歌、给谷歌献花、挽留谷歌、为谷歌叫好等跟政府政策唱反调的文字、图片和音视频等。请各地主管近期派专人监控谷歌相关信息，如有群体性事件信息。 #GoogleCN