Chinese Gmail users have noticed that their service has been a little spotty in the last few days — with some users finding it impossible to connect to the service at all.
Chinese tech blog Greatfire.org points towards the four different IPs used by the domain mail.google.com, and finds that three appear to be blocked.
Why would it be partially blocked? Greatfire explains two theories:
Partially blocking Gmail may give users the impression that Google is to blame for offering an unstable service. If this strategy works, Chinese users may decide to switch to domestic providers, which operate under local censorship and surveillence conditions. Another explanation for this partial blocking may be that the authorities are nervous of fully blocking Gmail.
Of course, this Thursday China begins its once-in-a-decade leadership transition, which may have something to do with the sudden outage of a communication tool (authorities have already banned pigeons for example).
Weibo-watching blog Tea Leaf Nation points towards one popular theory doing the rounds on Chinese social media. This message, posted on Sina Weibo by user @黑麦_, has reportedly been shared 14,000 times:
“If your Gmail does not work, open the Xinhua News Agency’s website and browse news about the 18th Party Congress, and your Internet service will recover in about five minutes. Just another [expletive] tip to get on with your life. How [expletive] stupid.”
Incredibly, fellow Weibo-users (and Tea Leaf Nation commenters) are saying that this tactic actually works.
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