In 2006, Google started operating a mainland China-based search engine at — agreeing to censor search results, so long as it could mention on censored search results pages that it was blocking content at the request of the Communist government. Then in January 2010, Google announced publicly that it was sick of censorship and seeing hacking attempts aimed at government critics and would no longer abide running a censored search engine in China.

So just two business weeks ago, Google abruptly redirected all traffic to its uncensored servers in Hong Kong, an arrangement that seems to have reached a sort of stable peace with the Chinese government.

But it’s still sort of a confusing mess …

So did Google shut down its search engine?

Technically, yes. As of March 22, all users trying to reach are being redirected to That url uses different servers — ones not hosted in China’s mainland.

So, the Chinese government won?

Yes, maybe. Google is not operating a search engine in China proper that is not complying with its internet censorship law. Google has been shown to be an interloper meddling in China’s internal affairs, which won’t be tolerated on a .cn domain.

But, wait, Chinese users going to are being re-directed to an uncensored Google search engine — also in Chinese — that doesn’t censor and shows ads. So Google won, no?

Yes, maybe, exactly. Google is running an uncensored search engine that is providing mainland Chinese users an unfiltered set of search results. Hong Kong, a part of China since the British turned it over in 1997, retains a large measure of independence and does not censor political dialog online.

So can Chinese users learn all they want about Falun Gong and Melamine-tainted milk and the Tienanmen massacre?

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