Will Google.cn continue in exile?

Written by Julen Madariaga on March 15th, 2010

This morning I was doing some tests on Google to see if there was any change in the search results, and I noticed one detail I had not thought of before: although everyone is describing Google.cn as “hosted in China”, the IP is American, as you can see on whois.

In fact, other than the deals with advertisers (the revenue-generating part of the business), there is little of Google.cn that is really in China. The data collected by Google.cn is a valuable asset for the company and it is kept in the US databanks, together with all the other Google countries indexes. Among other reasons, because Google.cn is nothing more than Google.com translated and censored for the Chinese.

This made me think of a possible outcome I hadn’t thought of before: that Google.cn may uncensor its content completely and continue to function normally served from the US, hosted under a different domain (since .cn extensions are controlled by China). From a practical point of view this wouldn’t make any big difference, as it would just be a copy of Google.com in simplified Chinese. But from a political and “face” perspective, it could be extremely damaging for Google relations with China, and probably lead to GFW of all Google services.

I sincerely hope this does not happen, and I hope that Google leaders will give due face to the Chinese government. One thing is to be consequent and decide to stop censoring content, a position that I respect. But a very different thing is to slam the door and slap the face of a government that is representing a whole country, whether we like it or not. That kind of arrogance would be completely unwarranted from any corporation, especially one with strong ties to a government that is not precisely an international model of respect of human rights.

I guess we’ll know the answer to this very soon. In the meantime, someone has an explanation for this “hosted in China” thing? I am puzzled, because Google.cn does behave like a site hosted in China (ie, no Reset Connection blocks), but unlike Baidu, the IP is outside. This is the only such case I have seen of outside IP not triggering RC terms, I guess it is part of  G’s deal with the government.

PS .For explanations on the technical stuff see the related posts below.

PSS. Another new thing on Google.cn that has been around for a few weeks is the advert that shows up once in a while on top of the searches: 小提示:”G.cn,值得信任” — 通过 G.cn 上谷歌. (announcement: you can trust G.cn-visit Google through G.cn). Ironic that this message has replaced the “censored results” notification that used to be on top of the search results.

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Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar

    well, that was quite a good shot, was it? “hosted in hongkong”, sneeky basterds… how do you think the CPC will react ?


    P.S.: gmail unblocked? http://www.google.com/prc/report.html#hl=en

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julen Madariaga Reply:

    Wow, thanks for the tip. I only see this news now. Will write about it this afternoon.http://chinayouren-free.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?quick_reply=21656#comments-form

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Mar

    Good call Julen, somewhat prescient, now we will see what happens. Enjoyed your insights throughout this saga. My .com searches also seem to be going through hk as well, does this mean that potentially all google searches could in the future be blocked in one big hit by the GFW?

    [Reply to this comment]

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