It was bound to happen no sooner than later, Google’s Gmail has reportedly been blocked in China after months of disruptions to the world’s biggest email service,citing the Great Firewall to blame. Very many Gmail Web addresses were cut off in China last Friday, said GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group. Users said the service was still down even today.
A member of GreatFire.org, who uses a pseudonym said
“I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas, Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail.”
“We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” a Singapore-based spokesman for Google said in an email. Since June this year, almost all of Google’s services have been heavily disrupted in China, but until last week Gmail users could still access emails downloaded via protocols like IMAP, SMTP and POP3. These had let people communicate using Gmail on apps like the Apple iPhone’s Mail and Microsoft Outlook.
China maintains tight control over the Internet, nipping in the bud any signs of dissent or challenges to the ruling Communist Party’s leadership.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denies any knowledge of Gmail being blocked, adding that the government was committed to providing a good business environment for foreign investors. She said
“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude towards foreign investors doing legitimate business here, We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”
One popular way for companies and people to get around China’s internet censorship is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which allows unhindered access to blocked sites and services.