Google China

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Coordinates: 39°59′34″N 116°19′24″E / 39.99278°N 116.32333°E / 39.99278; 116.32333

Google China
Type Private
Founded 2005
Founder(s) Kai-Fu Lee
Headquarters Beijing, People's Republic of China
Area served Mainland China
Industry Internet, Computer software
Parent Google

Google China (谷歌, pinyin: Gǔgē, a transcription spelled with characters translating to "valley song" or, in simplified Chinese, "cereal song") is the subsidiary of Google, Inc., the world's largest Internet search engine company. Google China ranks as the number 2 search engine in the People's Republic of China, after Baidu.



Google China was founded in 2005 and until September 4, 2009 was headed by Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft executive and the founder in 1998 of Microsoft Research Asia[1]. Microsoft sued Google and Kai-Fu Lee for the move but reached a confidential settlement[2]. After 4 years leading Google China, Kai-Fu Lee announced his surprise departure to start a venture fund amid debate about the Chinese government's censorship policies and Google's decreasing share to rival Baidu[1].

Their Beijing based office was initially located at NCI Tower and later moved to Tsinghua Science Park in early 2006. The newest office has been in use since September 2006. It is a 10-floor building located in Tsinghua Science Park, near the south gate of Tsinghua University.


File:Google China headquarter in Beijing.jpg
Google China headquarters in Tsinghua Science Park, Beijing

Google China serves a market of mainland Chinese Internet users that was estimated in July 2009 to have number 338 million.[3] This estimate is up from 45.8 million in June 2002, according to a survey report from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released on June 30, 2002.[4] A CNNIC report published a year and a half earlier, on January 17, 2001, estimated that the mainland Chinese Internet user base numbered 22.5 million people; this was considerably higher than the number published by Iamasia, a private Internet ratings company.[5] The first CNNIC report, published on October 10, 1997, estimated the number of Chinese internet users at fewer than 650 thousand people.

The competitors of Google China include, often called the "Google of China" due to its resemblance and similarity to Google.[citation needed] In August 2008, Google China launched a legal music download service, Google Music, to rival Baidu's potentially illicit offering.[6]

Google China has a market share in China of 29% according to Analysys International.[7]


Prior to Google China's establishment, itself was accessible, even though much of its content was not accessible due to censorship. According to official statistics, was accessible 90% of the time, and a number of services were not available at all.[8]

Since announcing its intent to comply with Internet censorship laws in the People's Republic of China, Google China has been the focus of controversy over what critics view as capitulation to the "Golden Shield Project". Due to its self-imposed censorship, whenever people search for prohibited Chinese keywords on a blocked list maintained by the PRC government, will display the following 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" are blocked entirely, with the only the message "Search results may not comply with the relevant laws, regulations and policy, can not be displayed" appearing.

Google has argued that it can 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.[9]

A PBS analysis reported clear differences between results returned for controversial keywords by the censored and uncensored search engines.[10] According to The New York Times, Google has set up computer systems inside China that try to access Web sites outside the country. If a site is inaccessible (e.g., due to the Golden Shield Project), then it is added to Google China's blacklist.[11]

In February 2006, Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, was quoted as saying virtually all of Google's customers in China were using the non-censored version of their website.[12]

Google critics in the United States claim that Google China is a flagrant violation of the Google motto, "Don't be evil." [13]

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 April 6 from the Chinese search engine company Sohu that Google stop distributing its pinyin IME software due to the fact that it allegedly copied portions from Sohu's own software.[14]

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.[15]

Operation Aurora

On January 12, 2010, Google announced that it is "no longer willing to continue censoring" results on, citing a breach of Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The company found that the hackers had breached into two Gmail accounts but was only able to access 'from' and 'to' information and subject headers of emails in these accounts [16] The company's investigation into the attack showed that at least 20 other companies had been similarly targeted. Additionally, "dozens" of Gmail accounts in China, Europe, and the United States had been regularly accessed by third parties, due to 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, and that it will 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, and potentially our offices in China."[17][18] transiently turned off its search result filtering. However, the filtering was later re-enabled without any acknowledgment or explanation; search queries in Chinese on the keywords Tiananmen or June 4, 1989, for examples, returned censored results with the standard censorship footnote.

On January 13, 2010, the news agency AHN reported that the U.S. Congress plans to investigate Google's allegations that the Chinese government used the company's service to spy on human rights activists.[19]. 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. The issue of Google's changed policy toward China has been cited as a potentially major development in world affairs, marking a split between authoritarian capitalism and the Western model of free capitalism and Internet access. [20]

The Chinese government has since made numerous standard and general statements on the matter. It also criticizes Google for failing to provide any evidence of its accusation.[21] The official China Daily published a scathing OpEd on Google which criticised western leaders for politicising the way in which China controls citizen's access to the Internet, saying "implementing monitoring according to a country's national context is what any government has to do. The Chinese society has generally less information bearing capacity than developed countries such as the U.S., which is an objective reality that no one can deny."[22]


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. CNET Microsoft settles with Google over executive hire (December 22, 2005)
  3. Reutuers. "China govt centre says 162 mln Internet users." Reuters, July 19, 2007.
  4. Ministry of Culture, People's Republic of China. "How Many Internet Users Are There in China?.", 2003.
  5. China Internet Information Center. "How Many Internet Users Are There in China?." China Internet Information Center (, February 8, 2001.
  6. The Guardian Google offers free music downloads in China , Wednesday 6th August, 2008.
  8. Official Google Blog: Google in China, January 27, 2006.
  9. BBC News. "Google censors itself for China." BBC News, January 25, 2006.
  10. FRONTLINE: the tank man: A Sampling of What's Censored/Filtered PBS
  11. Google's China Problem (and China's Google Problem), p8
  12. Brin Says Google Compromised Principles
  13. Cohn, William A. (2 - Autumn/2007) Yahoo's China Defense. "The New Presence."
  14. Lemon, Sumner (2007-04-08). "Rival Asks Google to Yank 'Copycat' Application". PC World (IDG).,130497-c,google/article.html. 
  15. Times Online. "Dissident Chinese professor to sue Yahoo! and Google for erasing his name" February 6, 2008
  16. "CNBC Video: Interview With Google's Chief Legal Officer". 
  17. "Official Google Blog: A new approach to China". Google. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  18. "Google 'may end China operations over Gmail breaches'". BBC. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  19. "Congress to Investigate Google Charges Of Chinese Internet Spying". AHN. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  20. "Google vs China: capitalist model, virtual wall". OpenDemocracy. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  21. "5維權網遭黑客攻擊". Mingpao Daily. 24 January 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  22. "Google, do not take Chinese netizens hostage". People's Daily, January 19, 2010. 

See also

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