Google says search engine, mobile service blocked in China

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Google Inc. reported Thursday that its Web search, mobile and advertising services in China had been blocked.

It was unclear if the services had been temporarily disrupted or if they were being blocked by the Chinese government. In fact, no one on mainland China has confirmed that Google’s search engine has been blocked. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Updated at 4:48 p.m.: A Google spokesman said users are now accessing Google services with no problems.

‘Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it’s possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage. That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage,’ he said.


He also noted that the dashboard is not a ‘real-time tool.’]

This marks the first time that the search engine was “fully blocked” to users in mainland China, according to a service availability page that Google operates. Two other services -- images and news -- were partially blocked. That raises concerns that Chinese officials may be taking steps against Google.

A search feature that suggests queries to users as they begin typing letters in the search box has been fully blocked. The feature was popular in China because typing Chinese characters is time consuming. Other services such as YouTube have long been blocked in China.

Google has been dueling with China over Web censorship, a dispute that escalated in January when the world’s largest search engine warned it would stop censoring search results and might pull out of the country.

Tensions seemed to have abated earlier this month when China granted Google a license to continue operating in China. That was after Google agreed to add an extra step for visitors to reach an uncensored search engine that operates out of the less restrictive Hong Kong.

Google is still losing market share to its Chinese rival Baidu Inc., which is the No. 1 search engine in China.

-- Jessica Guynn