This morning, Google’s Gmail was blocked in China. This follows many months of disruptions with Google services within China, and some groups are pointing to the Chinese Government as the source for the newly blocked Gmail.
The Chinese Government has been attempting to cut back on Google’s presence in the country for some time now, so the Gmail block isn’t completely shocking - but it’s still devastating to the many people living in China that once used Gmail.
Censorship from All Angles
The Chinese Government has long censored Internet within the country’s borders. In fact, China has one of the biggest and most sophisticated Internet censorship programs in the world. The country’s government immediately blocks any sites or people that speak up against the Communist Government, and anyone seeking to form Internet groups against the government are silenced swiftly.
Chinese move against Google isn’t so much against the company itself as it is against any kind of immense Western influence. Since Google largely controls most of the Internet from its popular search engine to services like Google Docs and Gmail, China’s Government has been keeping a close eye on Google’s business within the country. Disruptions to Google services as being part of a great government plan have been denied, but Google has claimed for many months that nothing is wrong on the company’s end.
Getting Rid of Google
Now that the Chinese Government has blocked Gmail, users will be forced to find another email client. Presumably, those other options will be Chinese email providers, and will be controlled by the government at every turn. Getting rid of Google in China might be as simple as blocking all Google applications and programs within the country, and this will mean that Google will lose a very large portion of its audience.
Not being able to use Gmail will be a major setback for the many companies that operate in China as well. A lot of those companies use Gmail, and this is no longer an option. At present, the government of China is denying having anything to do with the recent Gmail block. But, once again, Google has checked on its end, and has told the world that nothing is wrong on Google’s side. It is unlikely that the Chinese Government will admit to blocking the email service, since the government wants to appear open to foreign business, though that’s clearly not the case.
Is China Closing?
Without being able to connect to the Western world and use services like Gmail, a lot of foreign companies that do operate in China may be forced to look to other countries. The Chinese Government may be closing off China to foreign companies through methods such as blocking Google, and that could eventually mean a closed China for all.
Residents of China are largely blocked from Internet freedom, and now that foreign companies are having a hard time operating in China, you may start to see some companies moving back to North America - putting a strain on foreign relationships.