Searches on Google.cn – the Chinese langauge version of Google – for Tiananmen Square revealed images of army tanks rolling through Beijing, and a search for the Dalai Lama produced photos and working links to the official website for the spiritual leader of Tibet.
But it was unclear if the same pages were available within China, and the Monitor was unable to immediately verify the following report from MSNBC.
"...'Tiananmen Square massacre' was typed in, deliberately choosing the more controversial phrase instead of 'Tiananmen Square incident.'
"Once again, a long list of results appeared, detailing the military crackdown on protesters on 4 June 1989. The famous picture of a lone man blocking a line of tanks was among them.
"Each time, simply clicking on the links to the results enabled the sites to be accessed without any difficulty."
A Google spokesman in the US told MSNBC that censorship had not stopped.
"We have not changed our operations in China," Scott Rubin old MSNBC.
MSNBC said the Chinese government may have implemented the changes, which could be a sign that the government is softening its stance to retain the California-based Internet giant. According to reports, Google is on the verge of shutting its China operations.
Google is reportedly “99.9 percent sure” it will close its search engine in China because of stalled negotiations over censorship and the government’s continued insistence on blocking websites, The Financial Times reported Friday. A person close to the company said Google executives remained “adamant” about ending censorship in China.
As the Monitor's Peter Ford reported in January, the Chinese government has sought to cast Google’s threat to withdraw from China unless it can provide uncensored search results as primarily a commercial dispute. A recent poll showed that 87 percent of Chinese web users believe Internet access is a basic right.
Twitter was aflutter with speculation that China had dropped its Google censorship.
“Haha, wow. Go Google!” said one person.