It appears to be the case that Google and China do not really get on that well. Indeed, over recent years there have been several occasions where the company and the country have had pretty much a full blown argument over something that has happened and the reasons behind all of this are rather complex and more political in nature rather than anything else.
Indeed, some argue that the reason why China has such an issue with Google is because Google believe in the freedom of the Internet while China prefers to keep tight control. So, we know that there are issues with the search engine, but how about Gmail? Is it blocked or can it still be used even with some restrictions?
Is It Blocked?
The quick answer is that it is effectively blocked, but it has not occurred by straightforward means. Instead, people started to have issues with the email service in the middle of 2014 when the site would become very slow and sluggish with it eventually timing out on a number of occasions. It appears that the main idea was to try to annoy and disrupt usage of the email server to tempt people into using alternative means, but since December 2014 it appears that things were taken to another level with Gmail being blocked from mainland China.
However, reports by the likes of Reuters indicate that it is not blocked for everybody, which in itself is rather interesting. Indeed, people can still access it via third party apps on their smartphones and this market is massive in China, so even though the authorities may try to block things, there is often a way around it.
Why Is It Happening?
The service being blocked can only be attributed to what has been nicknamed the Great Firewall. This is technology that has been used by the Chinese government to restrict what can and cannot be seen by the Chinese via the Internet. They have the power to disrupt and block whatever they deem to be unfit for both the people and the government and in this instance they prefer people to use Chinese versions rather than this global American giant.
They have gradually blocked every aspect of Gmail as at first it was only the gmail.com section, but you could still view it via Outlook and using IMAP or POP servers. However, that has now changed leaving only those apps as the way to access your email.
So, what is going on?
- Google and China do not get along.
- China has blocked the use of Gmail to try to force Google out of the country.
- The only way to access is via apps on smartphones.
- The chances of this being resolved are rather limited to say the least.
What the future holds for Gmail in China is completely unknown. It is difficult to see either side backing down and of course it is the Chinese people that then end up suffering as a result. To us, it is crazy to think about something such as this actually happening in the first place, but for a huge number of people it is an issue that has led to them having to use various means just to see their email. Will it become unblocked? The chances are slim to say the least.