This can't really come as a surprise, but it appears that Google's plan to redirect all traffic from China
to its Hong Kong site, in response to China's censorship... and hack attack
isn't making China very happy. The country has apparently threatened to take away Google's Internet Content Provider license... so, now it appears that Google is taking a step back into China
in an attempt to keep the license. Google's argument (effectively the same one it had when it first went into China despite concerns about censorship there) is that having some
access in China is better than no access for people there:
Without an ICP license, we can't operate a commercial website like Google.cn--so Google would effectively go dark in China.
That's a prospect dreaded by many of our Chinese users, who have been vocal about their desire to keep Google.cn alive. We have therefore been looking at possible alternatives, and instead of automatically redirecting all our users, we have started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk--where users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page.
Over the next few days we'll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page--and today we re-submitted our ICP license renewal application based on this approach.
I'm not sure this will actually satisfy the Chinese government, or do Google much good either. It seems like taking a bit of a step backwards after insisting that it would stay out of China if China continued to require it to censor results.