UPDATE 1-Google moves China search service to Hong Kong

* visitors redirected to

* Google says will continue other operations in China

* Google shares up 0.4 pct, Baidu shares up 1.07 pct

SAN FRANCISCO, March 22 (Reuters) - Google Inc GOOG.O said visitors to its China search engine are being redirected to the Hong Kong-based, following unsuccessful talks with the Chinese government about operating an uncensored search engine in the country.

Google said in a blog post that it intends to continue research and development work in China and maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the salesforce will be partly dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access

The decision comes amid heightened tensions between China and the United States over a range of issues from Internet freedom to the yuan exchange rate, from economic sanctions on Iran to U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan.

Google had flagged its intention to withdraw from China, the world’s largest Internet market by users, in January when it said it had detected a sophisticated cyber attack on its computers that it traced to China.

Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Richard Chang