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Google says China 'interfering' with local Gmail accounts

Users in China have complained that they’re not able to send messages – and Google says it’s their government’s fault.

Advertising staff hold a protest at Google's Shanghai offices. Google has accused the Chinese government of being behind problems with the Gmail accounts of Chinese users.
Advertising staff hold a protest at Google's Shanghai offices. Google has accused the Chinese government of being behind problems with the Gmail accounts of Chinese users.
Image: Wen yin/AP

THE ONGOING TENSIONS between Google and the Chinese government have taken a fresh twist after the search giant accused the government of being behind a series of errors reported by its users.

The Guardian reports that users in China had been experiencing difficulties in sending outgoing mail, as well as having problems in marking messages as ‘unread’ and with others.

“This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” it quotes a Google spokesman as saying.

Commenting on the Financial Times’ observation that the nature of the errors makes it appear that the problems could lie with Google’s own servers, the spokesman added: “Relating to Google, there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively.”

The bold declaration comes a week after the company said it had noticed “highly targeted, and apparently politically motivated, targets against our users” – with the apparent attacks presumed to be an attempt to curb a Chinese counterpart to the ‘Jasmine revolutions’ in the Middle East.

While the Wall Street Journal says Beijing has yet to comment, the BBC recalls that China had previously declared similar allegations against it to be “groundless”.

Google has previously suggested that the email accounts of some of its Chinese users had been compromised as part of a wider state-sponsored hacking ring, with the user accounts of individuals known to be political dissidents targeted most.

The campaign ultimately saw Google threaten to pull out of the Chinese market, though it later agreed to continue operations at its Beijing offices. The search engine did, however, remove its Chinese site – redirecting all traffic to google.cn to its Hong Kong-based alternative, google.com.hk, which is not subject to censorship from the Chinese state.

That internet screening – officially known as the Golden Shield Project, though more regularly referred to as the ‘Great Firewall of China’ – is one of the country’s ways of stopping the internet from being used as a tool to organise political dissent.

Chinese officials forced Google censorship after searching for themselves – WikiLeaks >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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