Google will stop redirecting users to its uncensored portal in Hong Kong in a last-ditch effort to save its search business in the world's largest Internet market after butting heads with Beijing over Web censorship.
Google may have declared war against Chinese censorship in January, but now the search engine giant is scrambling to save its business in the world's largest internet market.
In an attempt to keep its operating license in China, Google will stop automatically redirecting users from its China portal to its uncensored Hong Kong website within the next 48 hours.
Beijing is silent on whether the move would allow it to keep its business there, but Hong Kong-based analyst , Francis Lun, says it is time for Google to raise the white flag.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) FULLBRIGHT SECURITIES GENERAL MANAGER, FRANCIS LUN, SAYING:
"Well it means that Google will kow-tow to the authorities again. I think it is commercial interest over-riding the moral high ground. Well, Google is a commercial enterprise. They have to do this. They have to make money."
But even with a renewed license, Google has not cleared all the hurdles to be declared king of China's search market, which is worth around 1 billion USD.
Its largest rival in China, Baidu, has successfully wooed Chinese internet users and takes up around 60 percent of China's search market.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 18-YEAR-OLD UNIVERSITY STUDENT, YU ZE YU, SAYING:
"I like using Baidu better. Because when I search with Baidu, it knows what I think and what I really want. But Google fails to do this. So very few Chinese use Google. Most Chinese don't like using Google."
Although Google's business in China only makes up a mere 1 or 2 percent of its annual profit of 6.5 billion USD, analysts say that the company has been eyeing China's long-term growth potential.
Google may have won the battle in January, but it remains to be seen if it will eventually win the war.