* Ministry spokeswoman says accusations "unacceptable"
* Gmail users in China report difficulty using service
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING, March 22 China's Foreign Ministry said
on Tuesday that it did not accept accusations from Google Inc
that the Chinese government was making it difficult for
Gmail users to use the service in the country.
"This is an unacceptable accusation," Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news conference, without
On Monday, a Google spokeswoman said any difficulty users in
China may have faced in recent weeks accessing Google's email
service was likely the result of government blocks.
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.
On Monday, Google shares were up 2.8 percent, while Chinese
rival Sina Corp rose 5.5 percent and Chinese search
engine operator Baidu Inc rose 2.9 percent.
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 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.
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.
(Writing by Ben Blanchard and Lee Chyen Yee; editing by Chris