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Google services interrupted in China while the country prepares new leaders

Google’s major services in China ground to a halt on Friday last week amidst the country’s transition of power done once every decade.

A transparency report created by Google itself to track and announce disruptions in services around the world showed a very significant drop in traffic across China. The report covers all the products and services of Google. The incident was treated as an outage and added to its list of ongoing outages.

A Google representative said: “We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end.”

The American search firm said it was not clear what caused it, although it happened a day before the start of the 18th National Congress in China–a landmark event in the country that makes a new set of leaders for China.

GreatFire, a website that gathers data associated with “the great firewall of China”  noted: “The fact that Google is blocked now is surely no coincidence. The big question is whether it will be unblocked again once the congress is over.”

GreatFire tries to track “blocked websites and searches” and focuses on Google and Baidu, the popular search engine in China. It revealed that the subdomains of Google were “DNS poisoned”–a method of attack that leads users to a different or non-existent website. GreatFire also said that attempts to bypass the block were not successful.

Users trying to reach Google in China were redirected to a non-working IP address in Korea, GreatFire said.

“Never before have so many people been affected by a decision to block a website,” GreatFire  added.

Google and the Chinese government are not in friendly terms as the former wants “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible”, which runs directly against China’s opaque governance.

In 2010, Google accused China of unjustified censorship as well as attempted hacking of its network infrastructure. The American company also threatened to shut down the Chinese site Google.cn.  After two months, Google withdrew from mainland China to discontinue China’s censorship, and redirected Chinese users to its uncensored site in Hong Kong.

source: cnn