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"Illegal flower tribute" (Chinese: 非法献花) is an Internet meme that emerged after Google's announcement of a possible exit from China in January 2009. On 12 Jan 2009 Google posted an article on its official Blogspot blog, entitled "A New Approach to China", in which it disclosed its decision to end compliance with the Internet censorship in China at Google.cn, citing recent politically-motivated hacker attacks from China on Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists as its primary concern. Google also announces in the article that it will seek negotiations with the Chinese government on this issue, and if an agreement or concensus on a non-censoring search engine could not be made, it is likely that Google will withdraw all its services from China, esp. Google.cn.

This decision, albeit uncertain, has prompted well-wishers from Beijing and neighbouring cities to show up at Google China's headquarter in Zhongguancun, Beijing to lay flowers and candles in a tribute to Google. However subsequent visitors were arriving only to discover that the flowers donated by previous visitors had been promptly removed by the alleged "security guards", and one security guard from the neighbourhood was reported saying that, in order to deposit flowers people would need to apply for permits at the related departments; otherwise without approved permits, they would be conducting an "illegal flower tribute".

The phrase "illegal flower tribute" soon became a popular Internet meme in China, owing to its oxymoronic and ironic nature. Nevertheless due to its sensitivity, the phrase has been censored on various Chinese websites, including Baidu, which has deleted the article on "illegal flower tribute" at its service Baidu Baike.


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