Some Google users in China had technical problems accessing the company’s search engines on Wednesday, just two days after Google snubbed Chinese authorities by ending censorship for its search users in the country.
For up to an hour starting around 10 a.m. local time, several search users in China and dozens of messages on Twitter reported being unable to access search results on either Google.com or Google.com.hk, the company’s Hong Kong search engine. For those users, any query on the two search engines returned an error message.
Other users had no problems accessing either search engine, and there was no national block placed on the Web sites such as the one China has slapped on YouTube and Twitter.
“Google.com.hk is not currently being blocked, although it seems that some sensitive terms are,” a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail.
The problems with search result pages appeared to subside quickly. Meanwhile, some other users said they were being redirected to the Hong Kong site when they tried to visit Google.com, leaving Google’s main international search engine inaccessible. The redirecting continued into the afternoon for some users.
The problems came the same day that an official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party accused Google of working with U.S. intelligence and security forces, in the latest sign of Chinese government anger at the company.
Google this week started redirecting Chinese users to its Hong Kong search engine from the address of its China-based site, Google.cn, acting on a pledge made two months earlier to end censorship of search results in China. China was quick to call Google’s move “totally wrong” and accuse it of violating a written agreement.
It was unclear what caused the Google access problems in China. But Google this week said it knew its move in China might lead the government to start blocking Google sites at any time. Google also said the switch to its Hong Kong site could cause some slowdowns or leave services temporarily inaccessible.
The Chinese government requires Web sites to censor content deemed to be sensitive, such as information about the 1989 democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Such content is not censored in Hong Kong, a former British colony that now governs itself but is part of China..
A commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily newspaper took a strong tone against Google. “For Chinese people, Google is not God, even if it makes a show of politics or values,” said the commentary, signed by an editor at the paper.
“In fact, Google is not a ‘values virgin.’ Google’s cooperation with U.S. intelligence and security agencies is widely known.” There was no sign that the paper’s accusation reflected official Chinese views.