Google China announced Monday that it will stop censoring search results. For both Google and China, the risks are big.
Ng Han Guan/AP
The Mountain View, Calif., company said it would stop censoring its search services – Google Search, Google News, and Google Images – on its Google China site by redirecting search inquiries to its site based in Hong Kong.
While China has not yet responded, it's possible – even probable – that the government will block access to the search engine in mainland China.
Although the financial impact of this move is small – consensus among analysts is that China makes up less than 2 percent of Google's revenues – the symbolism looms large.
For Google, the move can be seen as a courageous and principled stand against state censorship. But in business terms, it might also come to be seen as a strategic faux pas, an ill-advised retreat from a market with huge potential.