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Chinese officials forced Google censorship after searching for themselves - WikiLeaks

China ramped up pressure on Google to censor its results after senior officials searched for their own names, a leaked cable says.

Google's Chinese homepage currently redirects users to its Hong Kong page. The company told the US embassy in Beijing it was being harassed after one senior Chinese official Googled his name and disagreed with the results.
Google's Chinese homepage currently redirects users to its Hong Kong page. The company told the US embassy in Beijing it was being harassed after one senior Chinese official Googled his name and disagreed with the results.
Image: dycj/AP

SENIOR MEMBERS of the Chinese politburo upped their pressure on Google’s Chinese operations and forced it into maintaining its censorship regime after they put their own name into the search engine and found unfavourable results, it has been claimed.

The latest US diplomatic telegrams posted by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said that an unnamed Chinese propaganda official was shocked to discover that any Chinese citizen could visit the search giant’s US-based website (google.com), enter his name as a search term, and be presented with material that was deemed unfavourable toward him.

The official was thought to be surprised to be able to access the material, which was inaccessible through Google’s Chinese edition (google.cn) as part of the country’s strict internet censorship rules, simply by following one link on the google.cn homepage to visit the US-based equivalent.

On the back of that revelation, the official ordered these Chinese phone companies to stop any collaborations with Google, and went on to heap further pressure on the company – leading Google itself to approach the US embassy in Beijing and “discuss recent pressure by the Chinese government to censor the company’s website”.

That commercial blow had been particularly difficult, as one of the companies involved was a mobile operator, and mobile internet access had been Google’s “big bet” in the country, the cable stated.

The New York Times believes the official in question to be Li Changchun, a high-ranking member of the Communist Party who is effectively the country’s propaganda minister – who visited Ireland three months ago.

After Google had refused to remove link to the .com website from its Chinese homepage – stating that the inclusion of the link was one of the three conditions of its agreement with China – it had found itself under “harrassment” [sic] from China, which had begun periodically blocking some of its sites.

It is believed that the Chinese government itself had orchestrated the widespread hacking of Gmail accounts as a result.

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