David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal office at Google, posted the announcement on Google's official blog earlier this week.
Google's ICP license is expiring on 30 June. Drummond states: "Over the next few days we'll end the redirect entirely, taking all our Chinese users to our new landing page, and today we re-submitted our ICP license renewal application based on this approach."
On Google.cn's updated landing page, a link stating ‘We have moved to Google.com.hk' has been added under the search box. Users now have the option to move on to the Hong Kong server or not.
Drummond also said: "This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law."
Antony Yiu, managing director of Hong Kong and regional search director of North Asia at iProspect, believes this move will have little effect on users' behaviour. The traffic to Google.cn will remain at its current level, and so will support from advertisers.
"The redirection from Google.cn to the simplified Chinese version at Google.com.hk has not yet had a significant impact on traffic or the conversions and ROI that we have seen for our clients," added Yiu.
This move will test the limits set by the Chinese government. "I think it also depends heavily on whether the Chinese government finds the new landing page acceptable or not when they review Google's licensing information," said Yiu.
The Chinese government and Google have been in a tug-of-war since the beginning of 2010 when the search giant first announced their plans to exit the country. In March this year, Google stopped censoring its search services in China and started redirected users to servers based in Hong Kong.