Article Discussing Government Censorship and Google's Chinese News Service Appears on Xinhua, People's Daily Websites

September 29, 2004

On September 16, Bill Xia, head of Dynamic Internet Technology Inc., published a report on Google censoring results on its simplified Chinese news aggregation page. Specfically, searches performed on this page in the U.S. returned results that included Chinese dissident news websites such as Voice of America and Epoch Times. Searches for identical terms conducted on Google from within China return a messages that no results were found. According to a CNN report, Google has acknowledged its Chinese language news service is leaving out results from government-banned sites. An article that originally appeared on the website of the China Journalism Review on September 10th mentioning Chinese government Internet censorship in connection with Google's Chinese news service has been re-posted on the websites of China's two flagship media mouthpieces: Xinhua and the People's Daily. In the article, entitled "From Yahoo News to Google News," the author, Min Dahong, says:

There remain three points worth focusing on to see whether or not Google's Chinese news will be able to develop smoothly: (1) Prior to launching the simplified Chinese version of its news service on September 9, Google also launched traditional Chinese Hong Kong and Taiwan versions. The latter automatically gathers news reported by the Taiwan and Hong Kong media and other strategic providers, and owing to content problems caused by the technology, China's government affirmed that appropriate measures must be adopted. Even if the simplified Chinese version lists links to the BBC Chinese website and the Dajiyuan Times European edition (which has a Falun Gong background), it is clear that these are not permitted in China's [information] transmission environment. There is a big question as to whether or not Google's Chinese news service will be able to merge smoothly into the structure of China's Internet transmission [environment], and there is no discussing its future development in China without this point.

The author is a member of the quasi-governmental Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Media and Broadcasting Research Institute, and the appearance of this article on the websites of Xinhua and the People's Daily is notable as it represents a rare public acknowledgement by China's official news media that China's government is blocking foreign news websites like the BBC’s Chinese version. Currently Chinese authorities do not inform Internet users when a web page is blocked, and instead users receive a standard “Page Cannot be Displayed” message.