Google appears to have upped the ante in its standoff with the Chinese government by announcing it will no longer self-censor results for users in the country’s mainland.

On its official blog, the search engine said that it had decided to end censorship of search, news and image results in light of January’s cyber attack on the Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists with ties to China and Beijing’s "persistent blocking" of sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Google added that the Chinese government has repeatedly described self-censoring on Google.cn as a "non-negotiable legal requirement", so it will now deliver unedited material on Google.com.hk via its servers in Hong Kong.

It added that China, which represents a potentially huge market for search and internet marketing services, will continue to be used as a base for its research and development.

Furthermore, Google stressed that the decision to end censorship was taken in the United States and its Chinese employees cannot and should not be held responsible for it.

Beijing described the move as "totally wrong".

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