After threatening to do so earlier this year, Google has shut down its China search engine after four years of offering censored results. This has angered the authorities there, unsurprisingly, and there is now a war of words between the two. Google argues it’s on the side of free speech, and China that Google isn’t honoring promises it made when it entered China, while pointing out that democratic countries censor the internet too.
But what about Google’s other services? Google’s suite of apps are fantastic, but any Mail, Docs or even Reader users in China could lose a lot if the services became unreachable from China.
Google has posted about this on its blog, and set up a special page where users can monitor the availability of Google services in China. Read it here to see what’s going on. However, as it doesn’t look like either side will back down, it doesn’t look good in the long term for any of their services.
From inside China, it seems users can use the Hong Kong Google service, but results are still censored by China’s state firewall. Friends in China feel the move to Hong Kong is unlikely to be successful, and as it wasn’t used by the majority of internet users, it’s unlikely to have a huge effect.