Gmail has been blocked in China, following months of disruption. Reports suggest that China's Great Firewall is to blame, with large numbers of users being cut off from their email since last Friday.
Reuters reports that "large numbers of Gmail Web addresses were cut off in China on Friday," and users are reporting that the service is still unavailable today. Members of GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group, have explained:
"I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google's presence in China and even weaken its market overseas. Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail."
Google's own traffic analysis shows a huge slump in Gmail traffic since Friday. A Google spokesperson based in Singapore has explained that: "We've checked and there's nothing wrong on our end."
It's by no means the first time that Gmail has suffered in China, but up until Friday protocols like IMAP, SMTP and POP3 have worked just fine, allowing people to use the service on phones and in deskstop email clients. Clearly, that has now changed, and it's not surprising that most are looking to blame the Great Firewall of China—perhaps the world's most impressive (if that's the right word) Internet censorship tool.
For now, using a VPN removes the problem—but it's obviously getting harder and harder to use global services like Gmail from within China. [Reuters (on Re/code)]