Officials in China appear to have blocked access to Google email, months after a crackdown on the Internet giant's myriad services began.
According to data from Google's Transparency Report, Gmail traffic in China dropped sharply starting Thursday night and has remained low.
A spokesman for Google said in a statement that the company has checked its email service and “there’s nothing technically wrong on our end.”
Google services like Maps and Google Books have increasingly been restricted by Chinese censors this year. In June, days before the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, users reported disruptions to Google's search engine, Google Scholar, and country-specific pages.
In a news conference Monday, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said she was not aware of the Gmail disruption. "China always welcomes and supports foreign investors' legal business operations in China, and we will continue to provide an open, transparent and fair environment for foreign enterprises," Hua said.
FOR THE RECORD
10:43 a.m.: An earlier version of this article identified Hua Chunying as the Chinese foreign minister. She is a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Google has been in Beijing's crosshairs since at least 2010, when the Internet giant announced it would no longer abide by the government's censorship rules and began redirecting mainland users to its Hong Kong site, which doesn't face the same restrictions. The company maintains some operations in China.
The company's video service, YouTube, has been blocked in China for years, as have popular U.S. social media sites Facebook and Twitter.