Looks like China has taken additional steps to ensure that Gmail users won’t be able to access the world's largest email service. After severe disruptions since June (this year) it seems that censors in the country have finally put a halt to the service after six months.
China blocks all things Google
Google’s Gmail service is ‘virtually inaccessible’ in mainland China, and there is data to support this claim. Google’s spokesperson Taj Meadows recognized the drop in China’s traffic and said:
"We've checked and there's nothing wrong on our end,"
Looking at Google’s transparency report a large drop in traffic can be seen that started this Friday:
In Washington, the U.S. State Department expressed concern over China's actions. "We encourage China to be transparent in its dealings with international companies and to consider the market signal it sends with such acts," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said.
This is not the first time the China has blocked Google services, in fact it has been blocking many of them since 2009. Youtube was the first to be blocked followed by Picasa’s web albums, after which Google sites and search started getting disruptions. Let’s hope the list stops at Gmail! Previously determined people could still access their Gmail accounts (after the June disruptions) via IMAP, POP and STMP protocols, but now it seems that these third party loopholes have been closed by the Great Firewall and now the only way to access your mail and other blocked services is by using Virtual Private Netwroks (VPNs)
Large numbers of Gmail web addresses were cut off in China on Friday, according to GreatFire.org. A China based freedom of speech advocacy group said in a statement:
“I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” said a member of the group who uses an alias. “Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know anything about Gmail being blocked, adding that the government was committed to providing a good business environment for foreign investors.
"China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude towards foreign investors doing legitimate business here," she said. "We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China."
If this persists it may not only hurt freedom of speech, it will also hurt Google's market share in countries that do business with China on a regular basis, because if they can't get through to their clients in China through Gmail then they will obviously find other email services that are not censored in the country and will not disturb their business.
The latest transparency report shows hardly a change in traffic since Friday