Google's Chinese search engine was defying local law on Tuesday by returning links involving the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the Xinjiang independence movement, according to a report from NBC News.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company tells NBC that despite its January 12 announcement that it has decided to "no longer" censor search results in China, it is continuing to do so. ""We have not changed our operations," the web giant said.
Nonetheless, NBC was able to access previously-censored links from Google.cn, including the famous 1989 image of a lone man blocking a line of Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square. A search for "tank man" in Chinese characters on the search engine returned just one link to the photo - though several are available from the company's engine overseas.
Meanwhile, searching for "Tiananmen Square massacre", "Xinjiang independence" and "Tibet Information Network" turned up long lists of previously censored results.
NBC did say, however, that search results were erratic and that in some cases, access to verboten sites was indeed denied. One can only assume that Google.cn was experiencing some sort of wonderfully convenient technical difficulties. Or that someone was having some fun.
In mid-January, in response to an alleged Chinese hack on its internal systems, Google said it would enter talks with the Chinese government to determine "the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all". But talks continue to drag on - apparently - and Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the company has "no timetable" for their completion.
This has caused "extreme pain" for Google's Chinese ad partners, who are demanding that the web giant explain how they will be compensated if it shuts its Chinese search engine or leaves the country entirely. ®