Google has stopped censoring its mainland China search results and is redirecting search traffic to its servers in Hong Kong.
The company said on its blog overnight that it would no longer censor search, news and image results on Google.cn.
Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to an uncensored search page in simplified Chinese at Google.com.hk.
Senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond said the new approach was “entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.”
“We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services.”
The move, which makes good on a threat made two months ago, sparked a furious response from Chinese authorities.
“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” it said.
"Foreign companies must abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China.”
Google announced on January 12 that it was considering exiting the China market because of sustained cyber-attacks on its servers and because of increased attempts to limit free speech in the market.
Google-owned YouTube and Blogger sites are blocked from Chinese users, as are the social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
Google has set up a tracking site to report on the availability of Google services and apps. Currently it shows YouTube, Blogger and Sites out of reach for Chinese users and Google Docs, Picasa and Groups partially blocked.