It’s hard to believe that Google is technically still blocked in China, one of the world’s biggest internet economies. And yet Beijing has stood its ground under mounting pressure to officially let Chinese users gain access to Google, a stance that is particularly remains ironic given that Android is such a popular operating system in the country. Of course, users in China can access Google via virtual private networks, and have done so for years. But for a moment on Sunday, Google seemed to be (fleetingly) accessible to many Chinese users.
Local reports speculate that the temporary, apparent lift of the Google ban occurred because the company brought new servers online in China, whose IP addresses weren’t recognized by the Great Firewall. As a result, those servers weren’t blocked, and for two hours Google’s search services, as well as some email and photo services, were accessible.
One wonders how long Beijing will be able to “suppress” the use of Google in China. After all the block is relatively easy to skirt and Google has ramped up its presence in the country in other ways. Investment in startups, a secure foothold in the mobile operating industry, and other projects have kept the company’s other branches as players in China’s web economy. That said, the Chinese government is one of the world’s biggest sticklers of online censorship. As long as Google refuses to comply with the state’s censorship requirements, the more protracted the access game will be among user, government, and search engine.