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Gmail blocked in China following months of disruptions

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Google’s email service ‘Gmail’ has been blocked in China as part of the country’s efforts to curb foreign Internet services.

According to GreatFire.org, a website that tracks Internet access in the country, a large numbers of Gmail web addresses were cut off in China on Friday. Users also reported that the service was still down on Monday.

“I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” said a GreatFire.org member.

“Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail.”

Google’s own Transparency Report, which shows real-time traffic patterns for Google services, displayed a sharp drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China on Friday.

“We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” noted a Singapore-based Google spokesman in an email.
Even users took to Twitter and other forums to complain about the lack of access to Gmail.

Liu Yuan, a user in Shanghai, wrote: “mail from or to gmail from china may be returned. btw, which is the best vpn?”

According to Reuters, 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.”

The last time Google faced such a block-out was in June, ahead of the 25th anniversary of Beijing’s deadly suppression of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, when Google’s suite of services including Google+, chat and Drive were all made to shut down.

The only way to access Gmail in China now is through a virtual private network (VPN)—which is a paid service that securely routes the connection to a server outside China, and accesses the Internet from there.