The Google China war has started again. After Google reluctantly adhered to China’s restrictive censorship policy in July 2010 while renewing its annual operating license in mainland China, it was hoped that there would be no more fireworks on that account. However not even a year has passed before Google has complained that thousands of G mail accounts have made dysfunctional by the Chinese authorities. A charge that China’s foreign ministry spokesman has rejected as per a recent Reuters report.
As per Google spokeswoman on Monday millions of China’s G mail account holders were prevented from sending out mails or accessing their address books, despite logging on to their accounts. This was not due to a G mail malfunction that has become pretty common nowadays, but due to blocking of signals by Chinese authorities, as per Google. However Google did not talk of taking any retaliatory action like last year, but simply informed its users of the reason of the malfunction.
“There is no issue from our end, we have checked extensively” the Google spokeswoman declared in a mail to its China based G mail users early this week. “ This is a Government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with G mail.” Though China promptly refuted the charges the stock values of the Chinese mail site Sina Corp rose by 5.5% and search engine giant Baidu rose by 2.9% as investors sensed another round of user migration from Google.
China’s recent blockage of Google has been probably due to the discussion amongst Chinese users and foreigners on pro-democracy activities across the Arab world following Tunisia’s ‘Jasmine Revolution.’ As the protests against autocratic regimes have been snowballing in neighboring nations like Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria the threat to the movement spreading across the globe and reaching China seemed a matter of time unless nipped in the bud.
The Chinese authorities had a year ago blocked search words remotely connected to free speech last year from Google’s search engine. They also reportedly promoted expert software coders who hacked the Google accounts of activists communicating on G mail leading to Google’s threat to pull out of China last year. After Google called truce and agreed to Chinese censorship norms they have been working on advanced forms of monitoring and censorship. China can today track and block any message within mainland China sent either through the internet or the hand held device and Google seems to be fighting a war it cannot win.