Gmail access is partially restored in China, according to some reports as well as Google’s own real-time traffic charts. The bump in traffic follows a multi-day outage that began just after Christmas, which saw Gmail users blocked from using a workaround that allowed them to download their messages through third-party apps like Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook which use POP, SMAP and IMAP. The latest shutdown appeared to have closed up that final loophole, blocking Gmail almost entirely in the country.
The only way users in China have been able to access Gmail over the last few days were through a VPN service.
Today, however, some users on Twitter are claiming access has been restored. Meanwhile, Chinese state-run media is pointing the finger at Google, saying it could have been the reason for the temporary outage. The English version of China’s Global Times said the glitch fueled “unnecessary speculation,” noting that “we need to have faith that China has its own logic in terms of Internet policy and it is made and runs in accordance with the country’s fundamental interests.”
The paper continued, “if the China side indeed blocked Gmail, the decision must have been prompted by newly emerged security reasons. If that is the case, Gmail users need to accept the reality of Gmail being suspended in China. But we hope it is not the case.”
At the time of our report on the outage earlier this week, a Google spokesperson for Asia said “we’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end.”
We asked Google for an update on the outage and confirmation of the restored access this morning, and the company responded, again, that there was never anything technically wrong on its side.
The restoration of service doesn’t appear to be complete as of the time of writing. The traffic is climbing upwards again, but is not near the earlier levels seen before the Christmas outage. Some users are reporting having access again, while others say they don’t. One user on Twitter noted they had access for a few hours last night but now have none.
The majority of Google’s services, including Search, Drive and Gmail, were blocked in China in June, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.
It’s unclear at this time when access to Gmail via third-party apps will be fully restored, or if it ever will be.