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Google Was Set Free in China for 30 Blissful Minutes, But Permanent Access Unlikely

Posted: 12/16/2014 2:56 pm

Memorial of flowers at Google’s headquarters in Beijing right before the company left China in 2010.

What seemed like the impossible happened for a few minutes yesterday (December 15): calling up from within China showed a beautiful white screen with Google’s logo and a tempting search box underneath, something that hadn’t been seen since the site was blocked in 2010.

Word spread quickly, with netizens noting the change on Weibo and even The Nanfang staff making good use of this newfound search freedom. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t last. Just as people were catching on to Google’s availability, China quickly restored the Great Firewall with Google safely on the other side.

We considered doing a story on Google’s availability yesterday, but it seemed so short lived that perhaps it was a mistake. Today, however, firebrand nationalist newspaper the Global Times confirmed that Google was, indeed, set free for 30 minutes yesterday afternoon. It didn’t give a reason for the temporary change, but used the news as an opportunity to remind Google that it must “follow Chinese laws” to have access to the country.

Global Times also said the country’s ban on Google is working because the Silicon Valley company will “eventually concede” to Chinese conditions, just as Mark Zuckerberg and other US tech giants have shown interest in working with the Chinese government. Zuckerberg recently spoke Chinese at Tsinghua University and was photographed with Xi Jinping’s book on his desk.

Judging from Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s background in the former Soviet Union, we don’t expect Google to be quite as accommodating as Facebook.

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