By Tony Romm - 03/23/10 01:42 PM EDT
Officials in Beijing are furious with Google's move Monday to shut down access to its Chinese search portal and redirect users to its unfiltered Hong Kong site.
China late Monday mobilized quickly to censor access to that content, previously unavailable to the tens of millions who parsed Web pages using Google's self-censored search site, Google.cn, according to reports.
Notably, China Unicom -- the country's second largest cell-phone provider -- signaled to The New York Times it has delayed, if not killed, its plans to launch a phone based on Google's popular Android operating system.
However, even Google executives predicted a worsening relationship with China when they announced their decision to stop censoring late Monday, noting in a blog post that it was likely China would block access to its now-unfettered search portal.
Initially, Google CEO Eric Schmidt signaled the two sides would reach a
quick, amicable solution to their standoff, stemming from a January
cyberattack that targeted the search firm, human rights activists using its Gmail system and at least 20 other U.S. businesses.
But that agreement never arrived. Google threatened to cease censoring its results, even at risk of losing its search foothold in China. In response, China promised to take action against websites that displayed Google search bars once the U.S. tech giant stopped filtering its content.
That brinkmanship became reality late Monday, though Google stressed its move to redirect users to its Hong Kong portal did not actually violate Chinese censorship laws.
However, China has referred to the move in state-run media as "totally wrong," signaling more retaliation could follow in the coming days.