The move has angered Chinese officials, and whether Google can keep operating its engineering and sales offices in China is uncertain.
News of Google's decision reached China at 3 a.m. Tuesday. Despite the hour, Internet blogs were buzzing with thousands of comments, some backing Google, but many more backing China.
"I never thought China would ever back down from this; even when this story first broke, I think some people speculated the Chinese might change their policy, I did not think that because China is not willing to be dictated to by a company or another government," Santa Clara University law professor Anna Han said. Han is an expert on Chinese law and doing business in China.
Google is re-directing visitors from its China search site to one based in Hong Kong, where the Internet is not censored because Hong Kong operates under separate laws from China.
Google's apparent inability to win an accommodation from China could impact Bay Area entrepreneurs who want to do business there.
"With this 'hiccup,' I call it, I think it's going to be a little bit question mark in their mind; even if they are successful in China, they could stumble like Google has," Saeed Amidi of PlugAndPlayTechCenter.com said.
However, a door may have opened for Infoaxe, a small search engine started by two Stanford University classmates.
"We're really excited about the opportunity to improve search for China," co-founder Jonathan Siddharth said. "We have a lot of users from China. We expect to be growing very fast in China in the coming years."
Infoaxe's real-time search engine localizes its results on queries from a particular country or region, so the start-up hopes to avoid what Google faced.
"We still think there's a lot of value over that we can offer to Chinese users that we are uniquely poised to offer, and we'll really take it as it comes," co-founder Vijay Krishnan said.
Stanford student Tenzin Seldon was a central figure in the confrontation between Google and China. Google said her e-mail account was hacked from China.
Seldon told ABC7 she applauds Google for keeping its promise not to censor its search engine results. However, Seldon worries that China might try to block access to the Google Hong Kong site.
China's official news agency says officials there are indignant that Google stopped filtering its results.