China Blocks Google Services On Tiananmen Square Anniversary, Surprising No One
China's going to serious lengths to keep the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre under the radar: It's now blocking many Google services. GreatFire.org, a blog site that closely watches censorship in China, has claimed all Google services, including Gmail, translate, and search, have been blocked, and there's no word on whether this is permanent or not. But one thing is obvious: China really, really wants the world to forget about the June 4, 1989 crackdown. This was, after all, a terrible day in which hundreds to thousands of students were killed by Chinese soldiers during a peaceful protest.
In a blog post published Monday, GreatFire.org writes:
We reported that Google was blocked in 2012, [and] that the blockade [lasted] only 12 hours. We then estimated Chinese censors in the test or test public reaction "to block Google" button. We speculate that the blockade after reviewing agencies have access to enough data to permanently block Google. This is the most severe ever blocked. We condemn such acts of Chinese censors.
China already blocks YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, but this recent Google block is affecting most Chinese users, a GreatFire.org founder told The New York Times. The Chinese government is claiming the problem is on Google's end, but Google's said the company has checked into the problem, and says there aren't any issues. Surprising, right?
At this point, no comment has been made from any Chinese government officials about the Google block. But according to Reuters, people found speaking about the massacre have been detained by the Chinese government, including Pu Shiqiang, a respected human rights lawyer and one of the students who led the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a group monitoring the situation, emailed Bloomberg on May 29 and said 50 or more people have either vanished, been detained and held for questioning by Chinese police after gathering to discuss and commemorate the massacre. It seems even foreign media correspondents are being targeted, as the same group emailed Bloomberg on June 2, saying correspondents and staff were picked up by Chinese police and shown videos that urge against covering the Tiananmen Square Massacre anniversary.
This isn't the first time the Chinese government's attempted to forcibly ignore the Tiananmen Square anniversary. Because it's considered taboo, there is already heightened security as the anniversary nears, and awareness of the massacre is even banned from all Chinese websites and textbooks.