China did not erase Google from the Internet on Tuesday, but it did take a few steps in response to Google's decision to move its search engine to Hong Kong on Monday.
Chinese Internet users can still access Google.com.hk, calming fears of those who thought China would impose the same total ban on Google search that it has long had on services like Blogger and YouTube a day after Google announced its new plan for China. But in some cases, users are being prevented from clicking through to Web sites listed in search results for sensitive topics.
Gene Munster, a financial analyst with Piper Jaffray, put out a research note Tuesday morning based on a conversation with a contact in China, who observed that the blocking would appear after consecutive searches for a particular topic. In some cases it appears that access to Google.com.hk was blocked after repeated searches on a sensitive query, but restarting the computer after running into The Great Firewall appeared to restore access.
That's exactly how China censors search results on Google.com, which led Google to enter the country in 2006 in order to provide a better and faster search service that didn't have to pass through the government filters. Placing those servers inside of China forced Google to comply with self-censorship laws, however, which Google signaled it no longer had any intention of doing in January.
Google did not update the status dashboard it launched on Monday, when it said it would provide daily updates on which Google services are being blocked in China. A Google representative said the information currently on that site is still accurate, and that Google plans to update the site soon.
One prominent Internet company in China decided to cut ties with Google as a result of its decision, according to the Associated Press. TOM Online said the decision to remove Google search from its site was due to the "expiry of an agreement" but raises questions as to whether the Chinese government's public disdain for Google's position will pressure Internet companies into dropping ties to Google.