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What’s going on with Google’s China landing page?

Google doesn’t exactly have the best relationship with China. We all know that. Google’s latest stunt, however, may show just how fractious things between the Asian superpower and the internet giant have become.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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If you navigate to Google’s landing page, you are greeted with the usual search bar, except it’s floating above an ocean. A variety of the ocean’s most intimidating fish swim by, including sharks, swordfish and angler fish swim by. Suddenly the Google logo and the search bar fall into the ocean.

The implication is obvious — China is casting Google to the fish.

What sets this page apart from Google’s more typical Easter eggs is that it’s actually completely useless when it comes to search. Type in anything, press enter, and a series of related images just fall down into the ocean with you.

Following disputes over censorship, the internet giant left the country and began directing all Chinese traffic to its Hong Kong Page. In 2010, however, it was forced to stop doing so as the Chinese government threatened to remove its operating license.

Google is far from the predominant search power in China. That honour goes to Baidu which lays claim to around 84% of the market. In fact, Google largely owes its remaining search presences in China to the fact that it is the default search engine on Apple’s iOS devices.

A rumoured deal to provide Baidu support for Apple devices in the country could deal a death-blow to Google in the world’s biggest online market.