New cyber security fears could have prompted censors to block Gmail in China, state media said Tuesday, adding that if that was the case users should accept that the service will no longer be available to them.
The popular email service had been severely disrupted since the middle of 2014 but was completely blocked since last week with – what seems like as government censors – shutting access to Gmail through alternative protocols like Microsoft Outlook.
The service now remains accessible only through Virtual Private Networks or VPNs, which the government shuts down sporadically as well.
The foreign ministry has shrugged off allegations that it was the Chinese government that did it, saying foreign companies were welcome to do business legally in China.
Google incidentally had withdrawn from China in 2010 over issues of censorship.
China’s elaborate censorship mechanism, called the Great Firewall of China has also blocked Facebook, YouTube and thousands of other sites.
The editorial in Global Times, a newspaper from the Communist Party of China mouthpiece, People’s Daily, said: “The issue at heart is to what extent Google is willing to obey Chinese law, on which China's attitude is steadfast.”
The editorial was titled: “Gmail glitch fuels unnecessary speculation”.
“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,” it added.
It said that China will keep strengthening its national security as it gradually opens up to the West.
“We cannot avoid issues like Internet and ideological security when dealing with large IT companies from the West. But China has never yielded to such vigilance. It is always firm in its desire to further open up and honestly hopes to strike a balance between development and security,” the editorial said.
But it added that users should be ready to accept that the service might not be available anymore.
“If the China side indeed blocked Gmail, the decision must have been prompted by newly emerged security reasons. If that is the case, Gmail users need to accept the reality of Gmail being suspended in China. But we hope it is not the case,” the newspaper said.