As early as last Friday, Google reported slower levels of activity from China. It is speculated that the disruption is due to the 25th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations around Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
What is China Censoring Now?
According to Greatfire.org, the blockage is limiting access to:
- Google Search
- Google Hong Kong
- All other country specific versions of Google
There isn't specific evidence that points to either a permanent block or if it's just a temporary measure around the anniversary. A Reuters article provides insight from an advocacy group, which shared "Because the block has lasted for four days, it's more likely that Google will be severely disrupted and barely usable from now on."
When asked, a Google spokesman reiterated that Google has "checked extensively and there's nothing wrong on our end."
This isn't the first time that China has had a hand in controlling what their citizens can access. In 2013 there were issues with users searching "dangerous keywords," which led to them being kicked off the Internet.
In March, Google Encrypted Search became available in China. However, due to China's history of blocking searches to sensitive topics, it was unclear as to how this would affect citizens of China.
In addition to censorship of material on Google, the Chinese government blocks popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Why Are the Tiananmen Square Protests Such a Sensitive Subject?
On June 3 and 4, 1989, protestors held a six-week demonstration to demand democracy and political reform for China. In what was a very violent turn of events, the Chinese People's Liberation Army mobilized and pushed into Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Many protestors were crushed or shot. There was never an exact tally of the number of lives lost but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand.
In an effort to keep details hidden from Chinese citizens, government officials have chosen instead to block access to specific sites or search terms.
It's terrible that the Chinese citizens are denied access to basic information that affects them directly. How would you response if you began losing access to information via the Internet?
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