Google’s Gmail service is virtually inaccessible in mainland China, the search giant’s own data shows, in what appears to be the latest step in a steady ousting of its services from the nation.
Google’s Transparency Report charts show traffic began to fall in China late on Christmas Day and hit zero before midday on Dec. 26. Internet-analytics group Dyn Research also said Sunday on Twitter that there had been an IP-level block of Gmail access on the Chinese mainland.
Google says in an emailed comment to TIME that “we’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end.”
The stoppage effectively removes the last means of accessing Gmail from behind China’s Great Firewall without recourse to a virtual private network or VPN.
Chinese authorities had blocked access to numerous Google services — including Gmail, but also everything from Google Drive to Google Hangouts — just ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown this June. Since then, Gmail had been accessible in mainland China mainly just through email protocols, including IMAP and POP3, which allow Gmail access through applications like Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail on iPhone.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Monday that she had no information about Gmail disappearing, Reuters reports.
“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude towards foreign investors doing legitimate business here,” she said. “We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”
Beijing is well known for carefully curating what its citizens and visitors can and can’t see on the web. As of Monday, Chinese web-censorship watchdog GreatFire.org listed 599 Google sites as blocked in mainland China, and 13,558 out of the 13,612 Google search terms of interest as blocked, including the English phrase waging nonviolence.
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