Users of Gmail in China have had difficulty accessing accounts, sending e-mail and using other features of the service for the past two weeks. The landing page for the Web mail service is still visible to local Internet users.
"There is no technical issue on our side," Mountain View, California-based Google said in an e-mailed statement today. "We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail."
China, the world's largest Internet market with 457 million Web users, bans pornography, gambling and content critical of the ruling Communist Party. It already blocks Google's YouTube site as well as social-networking websites run by Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. Google moved its search-engine service out of mainland China last year and redirected users to Hong Kong to avoid having to comply with the country's Web censorship rules.