Google welcomes renewal of licence in China

Google welcomes renewal of licence in China

The Chinese government on Friday renewed the US internet giant Google Inc's licence to serve the world's largest online community, ending weeks of negotiations and speculation about Google's future in China after a showdown over online censorship, DPA reported.

The government had approved an application to renew Google's internet content provider (ICP) licence, said Marsha Wang, a spokeswoman for Google China.

"We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license, and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China," Google said in a statement posted on its Google.com website.

Guxiang Information Technology Co, the Chinese company operating the Google.cn site, had applied to renew the licence, which expired on June 30, earlier reports by Chinese state media said.

The official Xinhua news agency said Guxiang had promised to "ensure the company will not provide any law-breaking content," as required by China's regulations on internet management.

The regulations ban content that is deemed pornographic, violent or intended to "subvert state power, undermine national security or infringe on national reputation and interests."

Since last week, users of Google.cn have been diverted to a "landing page" that links to an uncensored Google website hosted in Hong Kong. Previously, Google had automatically redirected its users to the uncensored Hong Kong site.

Google said the new diversion was made after pressure from the Chinese government.

Google had redirected its Google.cn website to the uncensored Google.com.hk site since April after announcing in January that it would stop censoring its Chinese search results, which it had been required to do by mainland authorities.

"This redirect, which offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese, has been working well for our users and for Google," Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said in a blog post in late June.

"However, 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," Drummond said.

The "landing page" has the appearance of a standard Google page but attempts to click on it automatically redirect the user to the Hong Kong site.

On Friday, the landing page was still operating and most searches were allowed on the Google.co.hk site from China.

But a name search in Chinese for jailed dissident Hu Jia resulted in the blocking of the search page.

Google said its ending of censorship on the Google.cn site was made after discovering cyberattacks that originated in China and targeted Google servers as well as those of other Western companies.

The attacks included attempts to compromise Chinese human rights activists' e-mail accounts, Google said.

The Chinese government denied any involvement in the attacks and has defended its strict control of the internet.

The government employs tens of thousands of internet police to try to keep content broadly in line with Communist Party ideology. The internet police block hundreds of websites that are deemed politically sensitive.

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