Google first made the threat after it detected hacking into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. It said the intrusions originated from China.
The new move closes Google.cn, and redirects users to Google.com.hk, where for users from mainland China will see uncensored results from Google Search, Google News, and Google Images, in simplified Chinese. Users in Hong Kong will see no content changes, continuing to uncensored, traditional Chinese service from Google.com.hk.
Users from Hong Kong may, however, see performance changes. Google noted that due to the increased load on their Hong Kong servers, users may see some performance issues until the switchover is complete.
In a blog post announcing the change, David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, said:
Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese fromGoogle.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. [...]Obviously, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that China will take action to block access to Google's Hong Kong servers.
In terms of Google's wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk. Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them. Despite all the uncertainty and difficulties they have faced since we made our announcement in January, they have continued to focus on serving our Chinese users and customers. We are immensely proud of them.
To that end, Google has created a monitoring portal of sorts. It is similar to the Apps Status Dashboard that lets Google Apps customers know if there's a problem. The page will display status on indicating if the Chinese government is blocking various Google services.