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Gmail Service Slowly Recovering in China: What Really Happened?

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Global Times, a state-run media company that is close to China's Communist Party, stated that the unwillingness of Google to follow the laws of the country is the reason why its email service Gmail was recently completely shut down in China.

Gmail is the largest email service in the world. However, the website component of the service has been inaccessible in China since the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests back in June.

"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," wrote the Global Times in an editorial.

Users in China are still able to access their Gmail accounts through the use of third-party email applications. However, Jeremy Goldkorn, the founder of Chinese Internet and media tracker company Danwei, said that accessing Gmail through these third-party applications was also blocked in previous days starting in the evening of Thursday last week.

However, the number of users in China accessing Gmail is currently still just a fraction of how many users were doing so before the service was blocked last week.

The blocking of Gmail is made by the Great Firewall of China, which is the most sophisticated and extensive online censorship system in the world. Foreign websites including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are blocked, with online content deemed offensive by the Communist Party quickly deleted.

According to the Global Times, problems in accessing Gmail can be "caused by the China side, by Google itself or a combination of the two."

A spokesman for Google confirmed that there are no issues on Google's end regarding the inaccessibility of Gmail.

The Global Times also said that if the government of China did decide to block access to Gmail, the decision must be due to new reasons relating to security, adding that Chinese users should "accept the reality."

The Global Times also wrote that Chinese users should have faith in the government's decisions regarding regulations on Internet activities and that the decisions are all made with the fundamental interests of China in mind.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, claimed that she did not know about a decision to block Gmail in China, stressing instead on the country's support for foreign investors with legal businesses in China.

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