News / Asia

Google Says China Blocking its Email Services

Chinese youths use computers at an internet cafe in Beijing, China, 2006 (FILE).
Chinese youths use computers at an internet cafe in Beijing, China, 2006 (FILE).

Google is reporting email disruptions in China, where users have had difficulty accessing the company’s Gmail program.  

Computer users in China have had sporadic access to their Gmail accounts in recent weeks.  For some, access is inconsistent.  For others, it  has been completely blocked.

The California-based computer company Google, which offers Gmail, issued a statement saying it is not having any technical problems with its main website or Gmail service in China.  It said the problems are "government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail."

China’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment, and did not respond to questions submitted last week about Gmail service problems.

China has some of the strictest Internet controls in the world, and already blocks public access to a wide range of websites with content it deems illegal or pornographic.

Mark Natkin, with Marbridge Consulting, says he thinks the Chinese government may be responsible for the latest problems with Gmail.

"The service seems to be working fine outside China.  We have talked to individuals located immediately outside of mainland China, all of whom have reported that their Gmail service is working without disruption.  So, it seems that it is almost certainly something that the authorities here are doing," he says.

The new controls may be related to events in the Middle East, adds Natkin, where popular uprisings have led to leadership changes in some countries.

"I think this is much more closely related to the upheaval in the Middle East and concerns that there might be people calling for a similar activity in China."

He says he hopes the situation in China will be relaxed after, in his words, "things settle down" in the Middle East.

Chinese microblogs have blocked searches for words like "Jasmine," following Internet calls from abroad for Chinese to hold their own "Jasmine Revolution," similar to the Middle East protests.

Some Chinese users like Gmail because it includes Gchat, which is an instant messaging service that allows users to talk to each other via video.

One Beijing college student, who did not give her name, says she has noticed problems with her account in recent weeks, especially to her Gchat function.

Her Gmail account is not stable, she says, and that if she wants to communicate with people on Gchat, she has to refresh her web page or completely log in again.  But she adds that if the Chinese government indeed is to blame for the latest problems, then she would want to use Gmail even more.

Another Beijing college student who also has a Gmail account says he has not had much difficulty because his university has its own computer network that allows access to some sites that are publicly blocked.

He also did not give his name, but pointed to Google’s high-profile decision last year to pull out of China.

He says after that, Google’s reputation among Chinese netizens went up.  He also says many people have the impression that Google services like Gmail can evade government blocks, so he thinks it is natural that the Chinese government would want to target Google.

Last year, Google pulled its Chinese language Internet search engine from China and relocated it to Hong Kong, where there are fewer controls, because of cyber attacks and concerns over Chinese government censorship.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs