Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Google's Chinese results toe the line

Chinese internet user - archive picture
Are Google's China users being left in the dark?

Comparing Google's English and Chinese language search engines highlights how far the company has gone to win the approval of China's authorities.

Entering sensitive terms into the Chinese search engine throws up unusual results, with official Communist Party viewpoints taking precedence.

Typing in the Chinese characters for Falun Gong - the spiritual movement China brands an evil cult - brings up results like the official Chinese media's "Expose and Criticise Falun Gong" campaign.

Type Falun Gong into the English search engine, in contrast, and the movement's homepages and information centre are top of the results.

The Epoch Times, a New York based newspaper which has strongly criticised the Communist Party, also gets differential treatment.

Google's English search immediately brings up the paper's homepage.

But typing the paper's Chinese name into Google's Chinese search engine brings up Chinese government sites which criticise the paper's campaigns.

BBC included

Taiwan independence - another extremely sensitive subject for Beijing's rulers - brings up similar discrepancies.

Entering the Chinese characters for Taiwan independence into the Chinese language site brings results like Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing warning that China cannot tolerate such an outcome.

The same phase entered into the English engine brings up news reports, a Wikipedia entry and the homepage of the Taiwan Independence Party.

The BBC is not spared. The BBC's news website is heavily censored inside China, and is not generally available.

Entering BBC into Google's Chinese search engine brings up links to politically neutral sites like the BBC's learning languages. But there are no links provided to the BBC's news output.

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