A Clarification on Earlier Searching-in-China Note

Last night US time, as Tuesday morning was breaking in China, I posted a detailed report from a reader there about what he was finding, after Google had redirected its Google.cn Chinese-language service to a site in Hong Kong. (Hong Kong, again, has been a "Special Administrative Region" of the People's Republic since the British handover in 1997, but it operates under many different rules from the mainland, notably those covering press freedom and individual expression.)

The reader, who is in the tech industry suggested that the new reality indicated an expansion of mainland China's censorship regime. That is, the results on Google's Hong Kong site were not being censored by Google -- but they still were interrupted before a web user inside China could see them.

If I had parsed this more carefully before posting it (a lesson for the future), I would have inserted a note saying that this is not necessarily so -- as many other readers have pointed out to me overnight. As explained two years ago here, the Chinese "Great Firewall" system has for a long time been sophisticated about limiting how many outside-China results can make their way into mainland. So this could be nothing more than the automatic operation of the previous system, treating the Hong Kong servers as a "foreign" source. It's possible that something more has changed, but that initial report doesn't prove that it has. I wanted to note this clarification and to thank all in China for their reports.