China Shuts Down Gmail On Basis Of Disobeying Law, Says State Media
Google’s unwillingness to obey Chinese law has led to skirmishes between the tech giant and Chinese government, resulting in the shutdown of its hugely popular email service – Gmail. The state-run media announced the shutdown was because of the company’s reluctance to abide by the Chinese laws.
“China welcomes the company to do business on the prerequisite that it obeys Chinese law; however Google values more its reluctance to be restricted by Chinese law, resulting in conflict,” the Global Times said in an editorial.
Lately, users could only access the email service through third-party mail applications, not the webpage. But Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of Danwei which tracks Chinese media and the Internet, reported that even those ways of connecting to Gmail had been blocked recently.
Google’s Transparency Report showed a slight boost in traffic on Tuesday, when access was granted temporarily to users. But the fraction of Chinese users accessing Gmail was still negligible compared to before the blockage.
China is heavily guarded when it comes to Internet and media content sharing, operating the world’s most extensive Internet censorship system known as the “Great Firewall.” Foreign websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are regularly blocked and any content that the Communist Party may find offensive is quickly deleted.
This censorship led to the fallout between Google and Beijing, leading to Google withdrawing from the country in 2010.
“The issue at heart is to what extent Google is willing to obey Chinese law, on which China’s attitude is steadfast,” said the Global Times, which is close to the Communist Party.
Access problems could be “caused by the China side, by Google itself or a combination of the two,” it added.
If China did block Gmail, the Global Times said, it “must have been prompted by newly emerged security reasons” and users should “accept the reality”.
Google acknowledged that it did not want to be shut down, as it “doesn’t serve our own interests.” But it is serving the interests of other Chinese businesses nonetheless. According to the news website ChinaByte, there has been a spike in new users signing up for a rival email service run by NetEase. NetEase saw an uptick in the user base by three to four times that of normal, in just the past few days.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said she was “not aware” of the blocking of Gmail when asked about the issue. But she stressed that China has always welcomed and supports foreign investors carrying out legal business operations in the state.
Source: Global Times