In what many analysts are calling a move to further diminish Google’s influence in China, Gmail access has now been blocked by the nation’s uber-sophisticated censorship mechanism, The Great Firewall of China, Reuters reports.
The outage was first noticed last Friday by GreatFire.org, a China-based free speech advocacy group. As of today, the email service remains inaccessible.
Before being completely cut off, disruptions to Google’s services had been simmering across China since last June. The initial disruptions coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which the Chinese government killed thousands of pro-democratic protesters.
Until last week, Chinese users could still access Gmail via Apple’s mail app and Microsoft Outlook -- but not anymore.
In addition to the potential losses faced by Google if users are forced to switch to other email platforms, the blockages also make it increasingly difficult for companies with corporate Gmail accounts to conduct business in China, according to Reuters.
While a Google spokesperson confirmed that “there’s nothing wrong on our end,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman claimed no knowledge of or responsibility for the outages. “We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China," she said.