Type of site
|Founded||April 12, 2006|
|Alexa rank||29 (China, March 2019)|
|Current status||Limited access; redirects to Google Hong Kong|
|Literal meaning||The song of the valley. (Also the song of sowing, expectation, harvest, and joy.)|
Google China is a subsidiary of Google. Once a popular search engine, most services offered by Google China were blocked by the Great Firewall in the People's Republic of China. In 2010, searching via all Google search sites, including Google Mobile, was moved from mainland China to Hong Kong.
By November 2013, Google's search market share in China had declined to 1.7% from its August 2009 level of 36.2%, though it has slowly risen since, representing 3.8% of the search engine market by July of 2020. 
2000–2006: Launch of search service
On September 12, 2000, Google announced the addition of Simplified and Traditional Chinese versions to Google.com and began to provide search services for Chinese users worldwide.
On September 10, 2004, Google.com launched Simplified Chinese Google News.
In 2005, Google China moved from Xinhua Insurance Building, outside Jianguomen, to Keji Building in the Tsinghua Science Park near the east gate of Tsinghua University, where Google rented two floors. In addition, Google has an office in the Beijing Fortune Center.
On July 19, 2005, Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft executive and the founder in 1998 of Microsoft Research Asia, joined Google and officially became the president of Google China. On the same day, Google announced that it would set up a research and development center in China.
2006–2009: Censorship of Google
In January 2006, Simplified Chinese Google News was renamed from "Google 新闻" (Google News) to "Google 资讯" (Google Information).
On January 26, 2006, Google launched its China-based google.cn search page, with results subject to censorship by the Chinese government. Google used its Chinese name, GǔGē ("harvest song"), but it never caught on with Chinese internet users.
On April 12, 2006, Google's Global CEO Eric Schmidt announced Google's Chinese name as "谷歌" (The Chinese character version of GǔGē) in Beijing. Google officially entered the Chinese mainland market.
Since September 2006, the office of Google China has been a ten-floor building in Kejian Building in the Tsinghua Science Park.
In March 2009, China blocked access to Google's YouTube site due to footage showing Chinese security forces beating Tibetans; access to other Google online services was being denied to users arbitrarily.
On September 4, 2009, after four years leading Google China, Kai-Fu Lee unexpectedly left to start a venture fund, amid debate about the Chinese government's censorship policies and Google's decreasing share to rival Baidu and Sogou.
2010–2016: Giving up search service
In January 2010, Google announced that, in response to a Chinese-originated hacking attack on them and other US tech companies, they were no longer willing to censor searches in China and would pull out of the country completely if necessary. At the same time, Google started to redirect all search queries from Google.cn to Google.com.hk in Hong Kong, which returned results without censorship. Hong Kong is vested with independent judicial power and not subject to most Chinese laws, including those requiring the restriction of free flow of information and censorship of Internet traffic. David Drummond, senior vice president of Google, stated in the official Google blog that the circumstances surrounding censorship of the Internet in China led Google to move its search to Hong Kong, the absence of censorship making it more effective for networking and sharing information with Internet users in mainland China.
On March 30, 2010, searching via all Google search sites in all languages was banned in mainland China; any attempt to search using Google resulted in a DNS error. Initial reports suggested that the error was caused by a banned string (RFA, as in "Radio Free Asia") being automatically added to Google search queries upstream of user queries, with prominent China journalists disagreeing over whether the blockage was an intentional and high-level attempt to censor search results. Other Google services such as Google Mail and Google Maps appeared to be unaffected. Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at UC Berkeley and founder of the China Digital Times, noted that the ban in mainland China could eventually block all access to Google sites and applications if the Chinese government wanted. The ban was lifted the next day.
On June 30, 2010, Google ended the automatic redirect of Google China to Google Hong Kong, and instead placed a link to Google Hong Kong to avoid their Internet Content Provider (ICP) license being revoked.
The fact that Google had ended some of its services in China, and the reasons for it, were censored in China.
In 2013 Google stopped displaying warning messages that had shown up for mainland Chinese users who were attempting to search for politically sensitive phrases.
Google's Internet mail service, Gmail, and Chrome and Google-based search inquiries have not been available to mainland China users since 2014. Google has maintained that it would continue with the research and development offices in China along with the sales offices for other Google products such as Android smartphone software.
2016–present: Attempts to come back to mainland China
On August 1, 2016, Google China moved its headquarters from Tsinghua Science Park to Rongke Information Center.
On December 8, 2016, Google held the Google Developer Day China 2016 in the China National Convention Center, and announced the creation of a developer website for mainland Chinese developers, including Google Developers China (developers
In May 2017, Google China held Future of Go Summit with the Chinese government.
On December 13, 2017, Google China held Google Developer Day China 2017 in Shanghai and announced the establishment of the Google AI China Center, led by Fei-Fei Li and Professor Li Jia.
On August 1, 2018, The Intercept reported that Google plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, code-named Dragonfly. The finalized version could be launched as soon as January 2019. On 6 August, China Communist Party's official newspaper People's Daily published a column which was soon deleted saying that they might welcome a return of Google if it plays by Beijing's strict rules for media oversight. Soon afterwards, Li Yanhong, the founder of Baidu, China's dominant search engine, predicted his company will "again be victorious" against Google if the U.S. search giant returns to China.
Despite statements from Google executives that their work had been "exploratory", "in early stages" and that Google was "not close to launching a search product in China", on 21 September 2018 The Intercept reported the existence of an internal memo authored by a Google engineer that revealed details about the project. The memo reportedly said that a prototype of the censored search engine was being developed as an app called Maotai that would record the geographical position and internet history of its users, and accused Google of developing "spying tools" for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.
In December 2018, The Intercept reported that the Dragonfly project had "effectively been shut down" after a clash within Google, led by members of the company's privacy team.
Google China served a market of mainland Chinese Internet users that was estimated in July 2009 to number 338 million, up from 45.8 million in June 2002. A China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) report published a year and a half earlier, on January 17, 2001, had estimated the mainland Chinese Internet user base at 22.5 million, considerably higher than the number published by Iamasia, a private Internet ratings company. The first CNNIC report, published on 10 October 1997, estimated the number of Chinese Internet users at fewer than 650 thousand people.
The competitors of Google China include Sogou and Baidu, often called the "Google of China" because of its resemblance and similarity to Google. In August 2008, Google China launched a music download service, Google Music.
Before Google China's establishment, Google.com itself was accessible, even though much of its content was not accessible because of censorship. According to official statistics, google.com was accessible 90% of the time, and a number of services were not available at all.
Since announcing its intent to comply with Internet censorship laws in China, Google China had been the focus of controversy over what critics view as capitulation to the "Golden Shield Project". Because of its self-imposed censorship, whenever people searched for prohibited Chinese keywords on a blocked list maintained by the PRC government, google.cn displayed at the bottom of the page (translated): In accordance with local laws, regulations and policies, part of the search result is not shown. Some searches, such as (as of June 2009) "Tank Man" were blocked entirely, with only the message, "Search results may not comply with the relevant laws, regulations and policy, and cannot be displayed" appearing.
Google argued that it could play a role more useful to the cause of free speech by participating in China's IT industry than by refusing to comply and being denied admission to the mainland Chinese market. "While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission," a statement said.
A US PBS analysis reported clear differences between results returned for controversial keywords by the censored and uncensored search engines. Google set up computer systems inside China that try to access Web sites outside the country. If a site is inaccessible (e.g., because of the Golden Shield Project), then it was added to Google China's blacklist.
On April 9, 2007, Google China spokesman Cui Jin admitted that the pinyin Google Input Method Editor (IME) "was built leveraging some non-Google database resources". This was in response to a request on 6 April from the Chinese search engine company Sohu that Google stop distributing its pinyin IME software because it allegedly copied portions from Sohu's own software.
In early 2008 Guo Quan, a university professor who had been dismissed after having founded a democratic opposition party, announced plans to sue Yahoo! and Google in the United States for having blocked his name from search results in mainland China.
Operation Aurora and 2010 withdrawal
On January 12, 2010, Google announced that it was "no longer willing to continue censoring" results on Google.cn, citing a breach of Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists including thousands of activists involved with the Human Rights Defender, Falun Gong, and hundreds of overseas activists in fields such as encryption, intellectual property and democracy. The company learned that the hackers had breached two Gmail accounts but were only able to access 'from' and 'to' information and subject headers of emails in these accounts. The company's investigation into the attack showed that at least 34 other companies had been similarly targeted, including Adobe Systems, Symantec, Yahoo, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical. Experts claimed the aim of the attacks was to gain information on weapon systems, political dissidents, and valuable source code that powers software applications. Additionally, dozens of Gmail accounts in China, Europe, and the United States had been regularly accessed by third parties, by way of phishing or malware on the users' computers rather than a security breach at Google. Although Google did not explicitly accuse the Chinese government of the breach, it said it was no longer willing to censor results on google.cn, and that it would discuss over the next few weeks "the basis on which we could run an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China".
On January 13, 2010, the news agency AHN reported that the U.S. Congress planned to investigate Google's allegations that the Chinese government used the company's service to spy on human rights activists. In a major speech by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, analogies were drawn between the Berlin Wall and the free and unfree Internet. Chinese articles came back saying that the United States uses the internet as a means to create worldwide hegemony based on western values. The issue of Google's changed policy toward China was cited as a potentially major development in world affairs, marking a split between authoritarian socialism and the Western model of free capitalism and Internet access.
The Chinese government since made numerous standard and general statements on the matter, but took no real action. It also criticized Google for failing to provide any evidence of its accusation. Accusations were made by Baidu, a competing Chinese search engine, that Google was pulling out for financial rather than other reasons. At the time Baidu was the market leader in China with about 60% of the market compared to Google's 31%, Yahoo placing third with less than 10%. The Chinese People's Daily newspaper published an op-ed on Google which criticized western leaders for politicizing the way in which China controls citizens' access to the Internet, saying "implementing monitoring according to a country's national context is what any government has to do", and that China's need to censor the internet is greater than that of developed countries, "The Chinese society has generally less information bearing capacity than developed countries such as the U.S. ..."
While Jiang Yu, a spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, promoted the Chinese government's "development of the internet", Wang Chen of China's State Council Information Office defended online censorship: "Maintaining the safe operation of the Internet and the secure flow of information is a fundamental requirement for guaranteeing state security and people's fundamental interests, promoting economic development and cultural prosperity and maintaining a harmonious and stable society."
According to Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science from City University of Hong Kong, the ruling Chinese Communist Party was deploying Chinese nationalism to stifle debate about censorship in 2010. By criticizing cultural export (in this case, the localization of Google in China), it provided defense to justify the Chinese authorities' censorship control. The Chinese authorities were accused of steering state-run media to bundle Google together with other disputes with United States that had been stirring nationalist rancour in China at the time. On the website of the Global Times (www.huanqiu.com) such examples are found, one user wrote "Get the hell out" while another one wrote "Ha ha, I'm going to buy firecrackers to celebrate!"
Isaac Mao, a prominent Chinese internet expert, speculated that 90% of Internet users in China did not care whether Google was leaving or not. Among Chinese users who strongly supported Google remaining in China without censorship (or leaving China to keep its neutrality and independence), many were accustomed to using circumvention technology to access blocked websites.
Since May 27, 2014, Google's various services have been suspected of having been subject to malicious interference from the Great Firewall of China, as a result of which users became unable to access them. Since then users from mainland China found that Google's various sub-sites and other services (Google Play, Gmail, Google Docs, etc.) could not be accessed or used normally, including login to Google Account. Although some services like Google map and Google translate remained functional, users from certain places still failed to visit them. On the evening of July 10, 2014, users became able to use Google's services and functions, but users reported that access was denied the next day.
Blockage of Google
In November 2012, GreatFire.Org reported that China had blocked access to Google. The group reported that all Google domains, including Google search, Gmail, and Google Maps, became inaccessible. The reason for the blockage was likely to control the content in the nation's Internet while the government prepared to change leadership.
As the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approached, Chinese authorities blocked more websites and search engines. GreatFire said that the block was far-reaching, and that Google simply wasn't working. "The block is indiscriminate as all Google services in all countries, encrypted or not, are now blocked in China. This blockage includes Google search, images, Gmail and almost all other products. In addition, the block covers Google Hong Kong, google.com, and all other country specific versions, e.g., Google Japan. It is the tightest censorship ever deployed." The company began to redirect search results from mainland China to its Hong Kong website, which led the Chinese authorities to block the Hong Kong site by making users wait 90 seconds for banned results.
In 2012, Google added a new software feature to warn users when they type in a word censored or blocked in China, beginning to offer suggestions about possible sensitive or banned keywords in China.
In 2017, a glitch allowed access to Google which was soon blocked again. For example, searching the Chinese character 江; jiāng — which means "river", but is also a common surname — was blocked after erroneous rumours about the death of Jiang Zemin, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.
- 2014 China censorship of Google services
- Censorship by Google
- Chinese Intelligence Operations in the United States
- Dragonfly (search engine)
- Google bomb
- Illegal flower tribute
- Internet censorship in China
- "谷歌(Google)--IT--人民网". it.people.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- "谷歌的诞生" (in Chinese). Google 中国的博客网志. 13 April 2006. Archived from the original on 17 April 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2008.
- Microsoft blocks censorship of Skype in China: advocacy group. NBC News.com. Retrieved on 29 November 2013.
- "StatCounter Global Stats - Browser, OS, Search Engine including Mobile Usage Share". StatCounter.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "StatCounter Global Stats - Search Engine Market Share China". StatCounter.com. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
- 网易. "Google已在京租下整栋大厦 预计将扩充5倍员工_网易科技". tech.163.com. Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- Donnelly, Laura (5 September 2009). "China Google boss departure reignites debate over censorship". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- O'Rourke, James (2007). "Google in China: Government Censorship and Corporate Reputation". The Journal of Business Strategy. 28 (3). doi:10.1108/02756660710746229.
- "Google to censor itself in China". CNN. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
- Temple, David (9 October 2006). "Google's GuGe is a no go in China". multilingual search blog. Webcertain Group. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- Branigan, Tania (25 March 2009). "China blocks YouTube". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- "BBC News - China condemns decision by Google to lift censorship". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Final sentence of the article reads "Google宣佈停止在中國提供過濾搜尋，並把搜尋引擎移到香港" (Google announced that searches in Google China will not be subject to censorship, and re-direct the entire search engine to Google Hong Kong.) "向極權說不 Google棄北京投香港". Apple Daily (in Chinese). Hong Kong: NEXTmedia. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- Drummond, David (22 March 2010). "A new approach to China: an update". The Official Google Blog. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- Hong Kong Basic Law, Chapter II Article 19
- Hong Kong Basic Law, Chapter II Article 18
- Pierson, David (31 March 2010). "Google searches appear to be blocked in China". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
- "Web search, Images and News 3/30/10 availability". Google. 30 March 2010. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
- "Google stops Hong Kong auto-redirect as China plays hardball". ArsTechnica.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Rebecca MacKinnon (31 January 2012). Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom. Basic Books. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0-465-02442-1. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Josh Halliday (7 January 2013). "Google's dropped anti-censorship warning marks quiet defeat in China". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
- "Google reroutes China search, Beijing fumes". IBNLive.com. p. 1. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- "谷歌中国总部要搬新址：公司庆祝"告别过去"". 21CN (in Chinese). NetEase. 15 July 2016. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- "Google开发者大会". Google China.
- "官宣｜Google Developers中国网站发布！". 谷歌开发者微信公众号 (in Chinese). 谷歌开发者. 8 December 2016.
- "中国开发者终于有自己的 Google Developers 网站了！". Engadget (in Chinese). 8 December 2016. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "谷歌三个开发者网站落地中国域名 意味着什么？". NetEase (in Chinese). 网易科技报道. 8 December 2016. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016.
- "让中国开发者更容易地使用 TensorFlow 打造人工智能应用" (in Chinese). Google Developers Local blog for Chinese language. 31 August 2017. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
- "谷歌官方宣布AI中国中心成立". 界面新闻 (in Chinese). 界面新闻. 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "谷歌AI中国中心正式成立 李飞飞李佳领衔(视频)". 新浪科技 (in Chinese). 新浪科技. 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "深入谷歌AI中国中心：三大核心研究方向与三大职位（李飞飞亲笔信）". 搜狐科技 (in Chinese). 14 December 2017. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "Google to open artificial intelligence centre in China". BBC News. 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "Google launching artificial intelligence research center in China". Reuters. 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- "Google is blocked in China, but that's not stopping it from opening an A.I. center there". CNBC. 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- Ryan Gallagher (1 August 2018). "Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
- "Bloomberg News". 6 August 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
- "Despite Google's 'Huge Blunder,' Communist Party Newspaper Sees Hope for Search Giant in China". Caixin Global. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- "Baidu Dares Google to Tread on Its Turf Again". Caixin Global. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- "Google CEO Tells Staff China Plans Are 'Exploratory' After Backlash". Bloomberg. 17 August 2018.
- "Google's censored search engine for China is sparking a moral crisis within the company". Vox. 25 September 2018.
- "Google suppresses memo revealing plans to closely track search users in China". The Intercept. 21 September 2018.
- "Report: Google suppressed an explosive memo about its Chinese search engine". CNET. 21 September 2018.
- Ryan Gallagher [@rj_gallagher] (21 September 2018). "The memo adds that Chinese users' movements (latitude & longitude data) would also be logged, along w/ the IP address of their device & links they clicked on. It accuses developers working on Dragonfly of creating "spying tools" for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Gallagher, Ryan (17 December 2018). "Google's Secret China Project "Effectively Ended" After Internal Confrontation". The Intercept. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
- Reuters, "China govt centre says 162 mln Internet users", Reuters, 19 July 2007.
- Ministry of Culture, People's Republic of China, "How Many Internet Users Are There in China?" Archived 5 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine, ChinaCulture.org, 24 September 2003.
- China Internet Information Center (CNNIC), "How Many Internet Users Are There in China?". China Internet Information Center (china.org.cn), 8 February 2001.
- Tom Krazit. "Baidu CEO touts growth of China's search engine". Retrieved 24 March 2010.
Li ended a trip to the U.S. Wednesday at Stanford University, speaking to a crowd of several hundred students about the lessons he learned shepherding Baidu through the first dot-com bust and growing it into the Google of China.
- "GOOG v. BIDU: Is Baidu No Longer the 'Google of China'?". Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- "Google offers free music downloads in China", The Guardian, Wednesday, 6 August 2008.
- "Lee quits as president of Google China". News.xinhuanet.com. 5 September 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- Qudong, Missing or empty
- Official Google Blog: Google in China, January 27, 2006.
- BBC News "Google censors itself for China." 25 January 2006
- FRONTLINE. "Controlling Information - You Can't Get There From Here -- Filtering Searches - The Tank Man - FRONTLINE - PBS". PBS.org. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Google's China Problem (and China's Google Problem)", New York Times, 23 April 2006.
- Bridis, Ted (6 June 2006). "Google compromised its principles in China, founder says". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Cohn, William A. (2 – Autumn/2007) Yahoo's China Defense. "The New Presence."
- Lemon, Sumner (8 April 2007). "Rival Asks Google to Yank 'Copycat' Application". PC World. IDG.
- Times Online. "Dissident Chinese professor to sue Yahoo! and Google for erasing his name", February 6, 2008
- "CNBC Video: Interview With Google's Chief Legal Officer". The New York Times. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "Google China cyberattack part of vast espionage campaign, experts say". The Washington Post. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- "Official Google Blog: A new approach to China". Google. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
- "Google 'may end China operations over Gmail breaches'". BBC. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
- "Congress to Investigate Google Charges Of Chinese Internet Spying". AHN. 13 January 2010. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "Remarks on Internet Freedom" , at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., 21 March 2010.
- [Lexis Nexis Academic]
- "Johnny Ryan and Stefan Halper, 'Google vs China: capitalist model, virtual wall'". OpenDemocracy. 22 January 2010. Archived from the original on 24 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "5維權網遭黑客攻擊". Mingpao Daily. 24 January 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
- "Google 'may pull out of China after Gmail cyber attack'". BBC News. 13 January 2010.
- "Google, do not take Chinese netizens hostage". People's Daily, January 19, 2010.
- Chaudhary, Arushi (15 January 2010). "Google's plan to quit China strains Sino-US relations". The Money Times. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- Blanchard, Ben (22 March 2010). "Chinese media launches new attack on Google". Reuters.
- "Google.cn: R.I.P or good riddance?". CNN. USA.
- Kan, Michael. "Google blocked in China by censors, unclear how long it will last". InfoWorld.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Wines, Michael (1 June 2012). "Google to Alert Users to Chinese Censorship". The New York Times.
- "Glitch Allows Brief Access To Google In China — Now Its Blocked Again". BusinessInsider.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Google turns off China censorship warning". 7 January 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2017 – via www.BBC.com.