HONG KONG, March 21 Google Inc on
Monday accused the Chinese government of making it difficult for
Gmail users to access the service in the country, the latest
development in a rocky relationship between the two.
Google said any difficulty users in China may have faced in
the past few weeks accessing its email service was likely to be
the result of government blocks, a Google spokeswoman said in a
"There is no issue on our side, we have checked
extensively," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like
the problem is with Gmail."
Gmail users in China said they were still able to log in to
their accounts, but were unable to perform tasks such as sending
email and accessing their address books.
Google's run-ins with the Chinese government began in
January 2010, when the company said it was no longer willing to
censor search results in the country. Previously, the company
included a disclaimer on its China service that searches may not
be complete because of local laws.
Searches for terms deemed sensitive by Chinese censors are
routinely blocked. Chinese search engines such as that offered
by Baidu Inc already voluntarily filter searches.
This is not the first time Google has accused China of
interfering with its services. In January, Google said it had
uncovered sophisticated China-based attacks on human rights
activists using its Gmail service around the world.
The months-long censorship dispute that Google had with the
Chinese government was a diplomatic flashpoint in Sino-U.S.
Relations in 2010.
China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a
Censorship of Web content has intensified in China following
calls on foreign websites for a "Jasmine Revolution", which are
anti-government gatherings inspired by demonstrations in the
Middle East and North Africa.
(Reporting by Kelvin Soh in Hong Kong, Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing
and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Chris Lewis)