Google experienced its own Easter miracle. For a very brief window in time and space, Google services were accessible in China for the first time in more than three years.
South China Morning Post reported IP addresses from mainland China were able to access Google sites between 11:30 p.m. on Sunday and 1:15 a.m. on Monday. Google slipped past China’s censorship by introducing a series of new servers into Asian areas, which took Chinese officials a while to identify and block.
This was the first time Google search engine had been accessible in China since it was blocked unexpectedly in 2012. That action came six months after Google announced in a blog post that its search engine was “inconsistent and unreliable” in mainland China.
Those 105 minutes of unblocked Google searching in China was the first semblance of a win for the search giant in its ongoing battle with China. Google shut down its Google China search engine in 2010 after refusing to censor search results and threatening to leave the country altogether months earlier. The next year, Google alleged China had tampered with Gmail to stop a social uprising of the anti-government group Jasmine Revolution.
In December 2014, Google’s email service had been blocked entirely after users were still able to access Gmail messages through third-party apps, such as Microsoft Outlook. Google’s YouTube has also been blocked since 2009.
The blanket censorship of Google is part of China’s 18-year Golden Shield Project, aimed at helping the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) control what Chinese citizens can see online. The blocking of Internet services is known as “The Great Firewall” and has claimed many victims other than Google. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are a few of the major social media services not available in China.
There has been no word from either Google or Chinese officials over Google being unblocked in China. But, with the Google Play Store reportedly launching in China later this year, this momentary unblocking may have been a peek into the future.