Internet users in China searching Google's Hong Kong-hosted site (google.com.hk) for information on Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement, or '89 student movement' were met with an all-too familiar message: "the connection was reset" today.

This is because the 'great firewall of China' is already blocking search results from Google's new Hong Kong hosted site.

"Connection was reset"

Google's decision to relocate its Chinese-language search engine from Beijing to Hong Kong will no doubt have many repercussions. The first of which is the fact that those searching Google in China can no longer access sensitive information that the state doesn't want them to read.

The Chinese government heavily controls content posted inside China and the so-called "great firewall" stops them from reading sensitive material that is hosted on websites overseas.

This is why Chinese web users cannot access YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and thousands of other sites that western web users just take for granted.

"The great firewall is implemented by internet police in three ways," notes a report by Tania Branigan, The Guardian's Beijing correspondent today. "The first two are common tactics: blacklisting domain names and IP addresses, for example those belonging to groups such as Amnesty International. These methods are used by many countries around the world.

Unique censorship technique

"The third technique used by China is "close to unique"…[a] keyword blocking system. Essentially, the government's system mirrors and searches each packet of data as it passes in and out of the country, looking in URLs and webpages for keywords such as "falun", in reference to the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. Should it find them, it breaks the connection.

Now that Google has pulled out of China, the rest of the world will be focusing heavily on China's censorship of the internet, asking difficult questions about the reasons behind the state's activities in this area.

"The result is that China is beginning to look like the world's biggest intranet, joke users."

Via The Guardian