Gmail, the world’s biggest email service owned by technology giant Google Inc., was blocked in China after months of disruptions.
“I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” a member of GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group, told Reuters.
Large numbers of Gmail web addresses were cut off in China on Friday, and the service was still down on Monday, the group said.
Google’s own Transparency Report, which shows real-time traffic to Google services, displayed a sharp drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China on Friday.
“We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” a Singapore-based spokesman for Google told the news agency.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know anything about Gmail being blocked, adding that the government was committed to providing a good business environment for foreign investors.
“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude toward foreign investors doing legitimate business here,” she said. “We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”
In Washington, the US State Department expressed concern over China’s actions.
“We encourage China to be transparent in its dealings with international companies and to consider the market signal it sends with such acts,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke was quoted as saying.
Almost all of Google’s services have been heavily disrupted in China since June this year, but until last week Gmail users could still access emails downloaded via protocols like IMAP, SMTP and POP3.
China maintains tight control over the internet in a bid to quash signs of dissent or challenges to the Communist Party’s rule, the report said.
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