This is just getting ridiculous.
Act 1: Google self-censors in China, because, hey, turns out there's more money in being evil.
Act 2: Google stops censoring, sort of, by redirecting Chinese users to the uncensored Hong Kong site. [Q: What? A: Beats me]. This may be because of pressure from human rights organizations, or from Google's collective conscience. Or, more likely, in retaliation for a massive hacker attack by China against Google's servers.
Act 3: China naturally objects, and says to Google, NO MORE CHINA FOR YOU. Google panics.
Act 4: Google and China possibly come to an agreement in which users get the old censored site, but can access the uncensored HK site from a link on the main page.
“If the Chinese government isn’t happy with them running uncensored search results out of the Hong Kong site — I don’t see why they’ll be any happier just because it becomes one click away,” Danny Sullivan, who runs the search-analysis Web site Search Engine Land, told Bloomberg News."I don’t see why they’ll be any happier just because it becomes one click away."
China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday declined to comment.
“This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results ongoogle.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page,” Mr. Drummond wrote.
“This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law,” he continued. “We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via google.cn.”
I think there's basically two reasons China might be okay with this.
First, like Google, it lets them claim to not be censoring, while still effectively censoring for folks who don't bother (or who are too scared) to make the extra click to the HK results.
Second, and more nefariously, it will make it much easier for Google to track exactly who is circumventing the censorship.
So, what are your predictions for Act 5? Google gets kicked out of China anyway? China uses Google (again) to crack down on its populace (again)?