Google accused the Chinese government on Monday of interfering with its Gmail service, after weeks of online disruptions that have coincided with calls for protests emulating those in the Middle East. “There is no technical issue on our side – we have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” Google said in a statement to AFP.
Internet users in China have complained for several weeks of difficulties in accessing their Gmail accounts, and popular proxy servers that enable netizens to circumvent China’s web censorship system have also been disrupted. The disturbances have coincided with mysterious online calls for so-called “Jasmine rallies” – inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa – in dozens of cities around China each Sunday.
The campaign led to tight security in designated protest sites, while foreign reporters were roughed up by police at the locations. No obvious protest actions have been reported. China’s 10-day annual parliament session also ended last week – a traditionally sensitive time that often leads to increased online controls and security.