It’s been over a week since the first documents were leaked by the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks, yet despite the controversy, they continue to publish confidential cables sent from American embassies around the world.
The latest cable reveals how Google’s struggles to operate in China became increasingly difficult after a high-ranking Chinese official Googled himself only to find critical results.
This same member of China’s ruling body declared the company’s main search engine at Google.com was illegal after discovering the site provided uncensored search results, according to an unnamed source. The official then demanded that Google remove any links to the companies .com site from Google.cn. However, they never complied with this demand, stating they found “no legal basis for China’s demands.”
Although the officials name has been redacted in the released cable, according to a New York Times report, the official in question is most likely Li Changchun, a member of China’s Politburo Standing Committee. Li, is often considered to be the propaganda chief for China and is also named in another cable as the government official who oversaw the December 2009 hacking attack on Google’s computer systems.
Back in March, after the on going feud appeared to reach a climax, Google announced they would stop censoring search results in the country, as required by the Chinese government. Since then the Google.cn page has redirected users to Google’s Hong Kong search engine, which provides unfiltered results. The Chinese government, however, continues to censor search results from the page.
This newly released cable dated July 2009, show that the Chinese government repeated tried to force Google to meet its demands on Internet censorship. At one point they allegedly asked the country’s three state-owned telecommunication companies to stop working with Google as a form of retribution.
It’s not exactly news that Google has struggled to operate in China, however, this cable gives us a clearer insight into just how challenging it has been. Both Google and China’s Foreign Ministry have refused to give comment on the cables content.