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Google updates China access page with 'no issues'; reports say otherwise

March 23, 2010 |  7:15 pm

Goog-update
Contradicting a number of reports saying some Google services were being at least partially censored on Tuesday, the company used a status page it set up to indicate that its Web-based services in China were not experiencing any blocking. 

The page, created to show whether any of its China-facing services were affected after Google decided to re-route Chinese users to Hong Kong on Monday, gave no indication that any new blocking of its search engine or other services was taking place.

Yet reports in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press noted that Google searches for politically sensitive topics (e.g. Falun Gong, Tiananmen Square) returned blank screens or error messages -- probably meaning that the Chinese government was preventing Google's search engine from returning results to users there.

Still, instead of marking its search engine "partially blocked" -- a state signified by a yellow wrench on the status page -- Google updated the page Tuesday afternoon to indicate that the services remain completely unblocked and that it is seeing "no issues."

Reached to explain the apparent discrepancy, a Google spokesman noted that the page is intended to show whether Google's services are operating correctly on a broad scale -- not to reflect Chinese censorship of individual search queries.  Those queries may, after all, reflect a small slice of search activity in China.

"The goal is to show the availability of our services in China," the spokesman wrote. "It is not currently designed to represent small-scale, temporary blocking based on sensitive queries. We may make more changes to the page as we gather feedback."

-- David Sarno
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