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Chinese official: Google's search fix is law-abiding

A Chinese official says Google is complying with Chinese law, and what Google chooses to do in Hong Kong is its own affair.

The Web pages provides a click through to Google's Hong Kong site.
The Web pages provides a click through to Google's Hong Kong site.
Credit: Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

Google's resolution of its Net presence in China seems to have reached a stable point, at least for the time being.

A Chinese government official said Tuesday the country is satisfied with Google's resolution of how to balance a presence in China with censorship requirements.

"Google agreed...that it will respect China's laws and regulations," Zhang Feng, an official with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told members of the press, according to an Agence France-Presse report. "That is to say, it will not provide any information that will endanger China's national security, damage China's national interests, instigate ethnic hatred, spread superstitious information, damage social stability, or (provide) pornography, violence or slanderous information."

It's been a months-long road getting to this stage, not including the years-long stewing within Google about what to do with the censorship issue. Google announced its decision to cease censoring its search results in January, then in March moved Chinese-language search to Hong Kong, where laws are more liberal.

Google announced China renewed its license to provide Internet content earlier this month, and China confirmed the renewal shortly afterward.

To nobody's surprise, that solution wasn't satisfactory, so Google changed course. Instead of redirecting visitors to the page directly to Google's Hong Kong site, it added a prominent button users had to click to go there. The Chinese government referred to the change as the "rectification."

"The rectification and reform in the annual application basically conforms to regulation," Zhang said, according to The Associated Press.

Providing results through the Hong Kong site means that China can regulate what other Chinese visitors can see.

"As for the operation of its Web site in Hong Kong, that is totally a business decision that it is free to make," Zhang said of the move, according to AFP.

In a statement, Google made it clear that although it's abiding by Chinese law, it's not censoring.

"The products we are keeping on (Music, Translate, Product Search) do not require any censorship by Google," the company said in a statement. "All other products, like Web search, we are offering from, and without censorship."

Chinese speakers might also be interested in a Tuesday update regarding changes at Google on Google's China blog.

Lance Whitney, a member of the CNET Blog Network, contributed to this report.