Google's Chinese web site has been flooded with queries about the 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tianmen Square since it said last week it will no longer censor search results.
Queries for ''Truth of Tiananmen'' surged at the second- fastest pace for any search item on Google.cn as of 9 am on 18 January, according to the company's data on web site traffic. Data related to the crackdown is strictly controlled by Chinese authorities. (See: Google denies media reports of shutting China operations, claims business "as usual")
The searches serve to highlight the growing conflict between Chinese government and a growing population of internet users demanding greater access to information. Hundreds of supporters converged on Google's offices last week in support of the company even as it said it may wind up its China operations. The company said today it was in talks with the government and continues to censor its China site.
Google said last week it had discovered its network had been targeted by China based hackers who attempted to access the accounts of human rights activists using its Gmail e-mail service.
According to Isaac Mao,a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the sudden surge in searches for Tiananmen related topics showed that users had been trying to work out whether Google had dropped censorship altogether. He added that subjects like Tiananmen were good acid-tests.
China, with 384 million web users at the end of 2009 is the world's largest Internet market, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, a government agency that registers online domain names. It had only 110 million users four years ago when Google started its mainland China site.