|The Google.com search engine resumed operations in China yesterday after a two-week block suspected to have been ordered by the government. |
When Google and fellow American search engine AltaVista went down, the loss prompted outrage and scrambles to find other foreign search engines or backdoor routes to Google.
Chinese press reports said foreign search engines had been blocked because they led Chinese users to sites containing gambling, pornography and other 'unhealthy' content.
IT analyst Duncan Clark said he suspected that while the Google search engine may be up and running again, it now uses a mechanism to block access to sites containing certain phrases.
Google's top Chinese-language search result for President Jiang Zemin was - and is still - a minghui.org site titled 'Evil Jiang Zemin'. The destination site is blocked, as are many anti-government sites.
The block was seen as everything from an effort to sanitise the government's image ahead of the 16th Communist Party in November to a ploy to make Google partner with a Chinese search engine. The latter theory gained momentum on Monday, when people using Google were redirected to Chinese-language search engines and other Chinese sites.
'I don't know what happened,' said magazine editor Nina Xiang, who said she was 'more angry' than most people about Google being blocked. 'Is it an accident? Maybe the government lifted the block. I don't know what will happen. You can't see the future.'
Google users are being cautioned against getting too excited about renewed access to the foreign-based search engine - the most popular among China's 45 million Internet users.
'It's like a fever breaking - you don't know if the head will get hotter or will subside soon. We'll know tomorrow, I guess,' said Danny Levinson, chief operating officer of Beijing-based online games and e-mail software and marketing service Xianzai.com.
AltaVista, which offers a translation feature, remained inaccessible yesterday.