It's official. A week after reports came in that Google was fed up with the Chinese government and would likely be pulling the plug on their .cn-based site, Google.cn is essentially no more. Attempts to access the URL will now result in a redirect to their Hong Kong-based site, Google.com.hk. With this change, Google says in their blog that that they feel they have found a nice, legal way to bring uncensored web searching to the Chinese masses.
Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.
Google has always been questionable about the required censoring of their content, but until now they have acquiesced to the Chinese government's demands. However, when a cyber attack originating from the country targeting the information of human rights activists was launched against them late last year, they decided to reevaluate this decision.
Google stressed that they would still continue general business China, as well as the fact that the decision to drop the .cn site was made completely by those in the United States and that their Chinese employees should not suffer any possible consequences from this action.