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Google changes China access after Beijing objects

world Updated: Jun 29, 2010 22:38 IST

AP
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Google Inc said on Tuesday it will stop automatically rerouting users of its China search site to its Hong Kong site after Beijing said the company would lose its mainland Internet licence if the tactic continued.

Google shut down its China-based search engine on March 22 to avoid cooperating with the Chinese government's Internet filtering and has rerouted users to its unfiltered site in Hong Kong. But Google said regulators told the company its
Internet license, which expires on Wednesday, would not be renewed if that continues.

"They made it clear to us that they did not think the redirect was acceptable," said Jessica Powell, spokeswoman, Google.

She declined to say what reasons the government gave for its objections.

On a company blog, Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond said that Chinese authorities told the company "if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed."

Google still operates a music download service and several other features on Google.cn that are not affected by filtering regulations and Powell said it wants those services to continue. Instead of automatically being switched to Google.hk, visitors to Google.cn now see a tab that says in Chinese "We have moved to google.com.hk."

Users can click on that tab to move to the site in Hong Kong, which is a Chinese territory but has Western-style civil liberties and no Internet filtering.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said he had not seen Google's announcement and could not comment on it.

"I would like to stress that the Chinese government encourages foreign enterprises to operate in China according to law."