Google's run with China seems to get more and more rocky every month. This year has marked some of the most stringent bans China has seen in a while, filling up not only the blocked site list on the Great Firewall of China but also the minds and hearts of its people. Being under constant lock and key is never a great feeling, and users of Google's Gmail service in China have never felt it more than in the past few days. Following months of rocky service and difficulty accessing Gmail as a whole, China reportedly banned Christmas, Gmail and a number of other Google products on Christmas Day.
All of this is unofficial according to Chinese officials that have been asked about the matter. When asked about the matter Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she was unaware of Gmail being blocked in the country. Looking at Google's Transparency Report for traffic in and out of China to Google services is incredibly revealing though. Around 3am GMT on December 25th, Christmas Day, Virtually all traffic to and from Google and China have ceased. Traffic went from a very normal night and day pattern to essentially a flat line in a matter of an hour, meaning some theoretically were still able to get through to Google services through normal VPN type usage until that was snuffed out as well.
Now The Financial Times is reporting that access to Gmail and some other Google services has returned to it's rather abnormal state of normalcy, meaning that you'll most likely need to go through a VPN connection in order to get anything done via Google services. For those of us that have used Chinese phones or have visited China, none of this comes as a surprise. Many of the Chinese phones we review here like the Meizu MX4, Xiaomi Mi4, Huawei Honor 6 and others don't normally ship with Google services on board, rather specific Chinese services that are built knowing the limitations of the Internet in China. These phones can generally have Google services added back on them, some easier than others, for use in other countries though. Even still the blockade by China over Google's services continues, albeit in a way that's reportedly back to the norms of a week ago.