Google has accused China of blocking its email service, after users registered complaint unable to access their Gmail accounts. With intermittent access over the last few weeks combined with foreign journalists alleging that their accounts had been hacked into, Google has now issued a statement.
“There is no technical issue on our side,” said the California-based company. “We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail.”
The Gmail landing page is still visible to internet users in China. It has been alleged that this is part of an intensified campaign by government authorities in order to quell the call for protests that has been witnessed in the Middle East and in China’s very own ‘Jasmine protests’.
China is home to the world’s biggest internet market with more than 400 million users and practices strict policing including a ban on pornography, gambling and certain web content including Google’s YouTube and social media Facebook and Twitter.
In the last year, Google has suffered cyber attacks from China-based organisations that attempted to hack into accounts of Chinese activists. Two weeks ago, Google issued a statement in its official blog saying: “We’ve noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users. We believe activists may have been a specific target.” The hackers have also stolen some Google source code, it has been revealed.
Google has closed down its mainland China website since late 2009 and relocated its search engine to Hong Kong, where Beijing has few controls. The Chinese government reacted sharply to this relocation in a statement: “Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has been unavailable for comment.