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.
security team members Chris Evans, Robert Swiecki, Michal Zalewski, and
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
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