Google’s services were available in Mainland China for a few hours on Sunday night after six years of a ban by Chinese authorities. At around 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, users in China were able to access Google’s search engine, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Chinese “Great Firewall” slept for a couple of hours
Chinese users were able to access the search giant’s services through Google.com, Google.com.hk, Google.com.vn, and Google.com.sg. Chinese bloggers shared the news that the services were accessible from 11:30 p.m. on Sunday until censors pulled the plug at 1:15 a.m. on Monday. Technology blog Pingwest reported that access was available around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on Sunday and that other services like email and Google photos were accessible as well.
There is no proper explanation as to why the services were briefly available, but some local media reports suggest that it was because the U.S. firm brought some new servers online in Asia. According to the reports, the servers had IP addresses which weren’t recognized by the Great Firewall and thus were not blocked. China uses its online censorship program code-named the “Great Firewall” to block non-compliant services.
Users took to Chinese social media sites Weibo and WeChat to suggest that the glitch was a return to free speech, reported the SCMP.
Li Yue, a Shenzhen-based IT engineer, said, “At that moment, I even believed that Google was unblocked and that free speech had come back to [mainland] China again.”
Google, Facebook trying hard to revert the ban
Since 2010, Google’s search engine has been blocked in the region because of its refusal to comply with government censorship requirements. In 2010, the search giant moved its online search service from Mainland China to Hong Kong after a cyber-attack targeting Gmail users and a clash over censorship.
Google has not lost hope on the world’s most-populated country, even after the ban by Chinese authorities. The search giant has been creating new job openings in the country steadily and is also investing in Chinese start-ups. Apart from the search giant, other popular foreign internet platforms such as Facebook and YouTube are also blocked in China.
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is also trying to woo the Chinese government into removing the ban on the social networking site. He recently traveled to Beijing where he met China’s propaganda chief.