Google’s Gmail service, which has been blocked in mainland China for the past 6 months behind the so-called ‘Great Firewall’, has so far been accessible using some iPhone apps and third-party email applications including Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail. According to The Wall Street Journal however, Beijing seems to have upped the ante in its longstanding Google censorship, finally closing the loophole and completely shutting down access to Gmail behind the firewall.
Google data showed Gmail appeared to have been walled off starting Friday. Google spokesman Taj Meadows acknowledged the drop in traffic and said Monday that “there’s nothing wrong on our end.” China’s State Internet Information Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. At a daily press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she wasn’t aware of the matter. She added that the government “always welcomes foreign businesses to carry out relevant work in China.”
Back in June this year, Google’s suite of services including Google+, Gchat and Drive were all shut down, marking the first time China had blocked Google services to such a significant extent.
Gmail users in China can still however get access to the service through virtual private networks or other censorship bypass channels, the same way users access the likes of Facebook and Twitter in the region.