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Google and China seldom see eye to eye on internet issues. In recent weeks the Chinese government has reportedly been blocking Google's sites and instigating attacks on its customers, to try to quell growing unrest.  (Source: Bao Fan/Getty Images)
Government blockage of popular email client was designed to stop "jasmine revolution" amid Middle East turmoil

Google and China's icy relationship hasn't exactly warmed in recent weeks.  On Sunday, Google accused China of sabotaging connections to its webmail client Gmail to prevent unrest.

Multiple sources quoted a Google spokesperson's statement to the AFP, in which they said, "Relating to Google there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail."

That statement followed an earlier blog posting in which Google stated that a major country was using an MHTML flaw in Internet Explorer to attack activists.  Writes Google security team members Chris Evans, Robert Swiecki, Michal Zalewski, and Billy Rios:

We’ve noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users. We believe activists may have been a specific target. We’ve also seen attacks against users of another popular social site. All these attacks abuse a publicly-disclosed MHTML vulnerability for which an exploit was publicly posted in January 2011. Users browsing with the Internet Explorer browser are affected.

Google is upset because the loss of service both adversely affects its customers and its advertising partners -- its primary source of revenue.

China is being highly cautious in the wake of public unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.  Disgruntled citizens flocked to the internet to create "Jasmine rallies", protest events that were planned in major cities for each Sunday.  However, thanks to China's crackdown on internet communications, the rallies have thus far failed to materialize, according to U.S. reporters.

The Chinese government is also being cautious, as the Parliament's 10-day annual session has just ended.  Typically this is the most heated time of year in China as people voice complaints about Parliamentary decisions.

Google and China have endured a rocky partnership.  While Android is selling millions of smart phones in China and while Google Search remains the second most used search engine in the world's most populous nation, the pair have frequently been at odds.  Google has accused the Chinese government of allowing hackers to steal parts of its source code, and even alluded that the government itself might be behind those efforts.

Last year Google temporarily uncensored its search in response to these attacks, and was promptly kicked out of China's webspace.  Google eventually agreed to re-censor the search results, but it remains more liberal in its allowances.

China's largest search engine is Baidu, a local firm.  The Chinese government recently launched its own search engine, Panguso, in a joint venture with telecom giant China Mobile.  That search engine, which features even more strictly censored results, has yet to gain significant market share.

The people of China have used proxies to escape the oppressive censorship of the government.  However, the Chinese government -- along with its crackdown of Gmail -- has silenced many of these proxy services in recent weeks.  The Chinese government also blocked a Google tool designed to allow people to find loved ones in Japan in the wake of the earthquake.  Chinese authorities appeared to believe that the tool could be used to organize protests.

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RE: Seriously China...
By Ammohunt on 3/21/2011 2:37:54 PM , Rating: 3
As the quality of life in china improves the communists in charge will not be able to stop this type of change; people will demand better.

RE: Seriously China...
By Drag0nFire on 3/21/2011 2:56:31 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, the reality is just the opposite. The fall of the USSR can be directly linked to the poor quality of life of its people.

In contrast, China has found a way to incorporate the economic prosperity of a more open society without sacrificing its closed political system. This has given it a remarkable stability that defies political theorists' predictions.

If the dramatic improvements in quality of life continue for China's population, the government will further entrench it's position. It's very difficult for a mass revolt to spread when people are generally happy (have a high quality of life).

RE: Seriously China...
By Roffles on 3/21/2011 6:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
Are you serious about the USSR and Russia? You need to go back to history school.

RE: Seriously China...
By Laereom on 3/22/2011 8:11:21 PM , Rating: 2 what you just posted has nothing to do with what he just said. I get it.


RE: Seriously China...
By zinfamous on 3/21/2011 8:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think so. unlike the Mideast, China doesn't have the same type of massive unemployment (25%+) amongst the highly educated workforce. This is the type of thing that leads to longstanding civil unrest.

It's not lack of social and economic freedom that stirs unrest, so much as employment.

This was more or less the downfall of Egypt--for decades, unrest was easy to suppress among the largely working-class, uneducated population with simple entitlements and medical, housing, food provisions. But, as the population grew increasingly younger, and much more educated (I think next to Iran, Egypt has the highest percentage of young, well-educated in their population), the population became more difficult to mollify.

While unemployment remains high, I think it is somewhere on the order of ~7% for uneducated/working-class, but a staggering of 25% of the educated class. That is the real problem.

China has massive high tech industry and academic jobs, and much of their unemployment is rural farm-based. Very easy to satisfy them with handouts.

Keep the educated working, and they have little reason to remain persistent in their unhappiness.

RE: Seriously China...
By iceonfire1 on 3/21/2011 11:29:36 PM , Rating: 2
In fact, migrant workers have much better success finding lower-tier jobs in China than the newly educated. For the migrant work force, approximately 97% is employed, whereas only 85-90% of college graduates are. This should make sense, as service jobs would be created at a slower rate in a very rapidly developing economy.

Also, just want to say, I'm actually posting this from China.

My source is the East Asian institute (no url b/c spam filter)

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