BEIJING: Google, the online search giant, has accused the Chinese government of blocking aspects of its service, in the latest phase of its on-going battle with the authorities in the country.
The US multinational recently announced it would discontinue the practice of automatically redirecting visitors in China to a parallel site in Hong Kong that does not receive the same level of censorship.
Instead, it is giving netizens the choice of utilising this portal or its official Chinese offering, the results of which are filtered in order to limit popular access to sensitive information.
The company, which fears the loss of its Chinese licence, and access to a potential audience of over 400 million people, reported that its Google Suggest feature has now been subject to formal restriction.
This tool attempts to anticipate the queries of consumers, and provides them with a variety of options based on the first few characters they enter in the search box.
At present, this constraint seems to apply only within mainland China but is yet to be implemented in Hong Kong, where the regulatory climate is more relaxed.
"It appears that search queries produced by Google Suggest are being blocked for mainland users in China. Normal searches that do not use query suggestions are unaffected," Google said in a statement.
Other key Google platforms, such as its Gmail, News and Images properties, remained "fully or mostly accessible" at present, it added.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff