China has blocked the last remaining access to Gmail
China has blocked the last remaining access to Gmail

China has blocked the last remaining way to access Google’s popular
e-mail service, experts said yesterday, as authorities there work to
establish “Internet sovereignty” by controlling what enters the country
via the web.
Gmail, the world’s biggest e-mail service, has been
largely inaccessible from within China since the run-up to the 25th
anniversary in June of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy
demonstrators.
But users could still access the service by using third-party mail applications, rather than the webpage.
“But
they have blocked those ways of accessing,” said Jeremy Goldkorn,
founder of Danwei, a Beijing-based firm that tracks Chinese media and
the Internet.
“I think this is pretty confirmed. It is now already four, five days, so this is real,” he said.
Analysts
say China operates the world’s most extensive and sophisticated
Internet censorship system and routinely blocks foreign websites.

“There is an increasingly aggressive attitude towards what
they (Beijing) call ‘Internet sovereignty’ and they are confident about
talking about Internet censorship in positive terms,” Goldkorn added.
“The past two years have seen a consistent tightening of all kinds of censorship on the Internet and media.”
A
graph showing Internet traffic from China accessing Gmail dropped
sharply on Friday, according to Google’s Transparency Report, and has
not returned to normal levels.
“We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” a Singapore-based spokesman for Google told AFP.
The
United States, while careful not to accuse Beijing directly, said it
was aware of reports that Gmail had been blocked and that it was
“concerned by efforts in China to undermine freedom of expression”.
“We
believe Chinese authorities’ censorship of the media and of certain
websites is… incompatible with China’s aspirations to build a modern
information-based economy and society,” State Department spokesman
Jeffrey Rathke said Monday.
“So we encourage China to be
transparent in its dealings with international companies and to consider
the market signal it sends with – with such acts,” he added.
Internet users in China were irate Monday, with many spewing vitriol on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service.
“The
reason for blocking of Gmail domestically is political problems… it
reflects the grim situation facing the political environment,” one user
said.
Another commentator fumed, “Protest the government blocking Gmail! Demand its restoration!”
China
tightly controls the Internet, and only a fraction of its online
population of 632 million can circumvent government restrictions.
Controls
include the blocking of foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter and
YouTube using a system known as the “Great Firewall”, as well as
routinely deleting content that the ruling Communist Party deems
offensive.