Just Google It? Not In China, Where Google Remains Blocked


Bird on the left: I want to get out of here. Bird on the right: You guys are being dramatic. We've got food and water here. The image is in response to Chinese netizens’ reaction to the block on Google.  Image via Kgen Bao on Twitter.

A block on Google in China is nearing its third week, and some are predicting it could last a while longer. 

Google search, Gmail and other services from the Internet giant became inaccessible on May 30 ahead of the anniversary of the Tiannamen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, when Chinese troops attacked unarmed pro-democracy protesters in Beijing, killing somewhere between a few hundred and thousands of people. The country's censors have kept a close eye – and used a heavy hand – on discussion of it. 

Google confirmed that the block wasn't their doing, nor were there any technical problems on their end. The company moved its servers to Hong Kong from mainland China in 2010 after refusing to continue to self-censor search results.

Chinese web users are doing their best to get around the block. A growing number are using virtual private networks (VPN) to access Google from the mainland. Another popular option is a Google mirror site, which has added the line, “If there’s no struggle, there’s no freedom,” to the Google logo. The website puts out a call for users to protest on Twitter-like site Sina Weibo and mobile messaging app WeChat:

GFW(中国国家防火长城)屏蔽了所有谷歌(Google)的服务,包括对科研至关重要的Google学术。如果你认为这是不可接受的,请将本页面转发到微博,微信。 在2013年初,GFW封锁了Github(代码分享网站)后,大量程序员在微博和工信部投诉,最后GFW被迫解封。没有抗争就没有自由!请大家转发此页面给GFW施压!

The GFW (Great Firewall) has blocked all services from Google, including important science and research academic resources. If you think it’s unacceptable, please repost this message on Weibo and WeChat. In the beginning of 2013, after the GFW blocked [hosting service] Github, many programmers complained on Weibo, and in the end, the GFW gave up and unblocked it. If there’s no struggle, there’s no freedom. Please repost this message and put pressure on the GFW.

According to the website, it has over 100,000 visitors every day. On FreeWeibo.com, a website that makes available Weibo accounts that have been censored on Sina Weibo, both “Google” and “If there’s no struggle, there’s no freedom” are listed as the top censored keywords. 

One of the founders of censorship watchdog GreatFire.org told newspaper Global Times via email that the block on all Google services is the longest in the history of the Chinese mainland's Internet:

Google products are critical for users in high-tech industry, especially programmers. Such effects might not be immediate, but over the long-term, the Chinese technology sector will lag behind if the block is permanent.

Many academics have been particularly upset not being able to use Google Scholar, a search engine for academic texts. A Weibo user, “Chen Shixu,” wrote:


I'm very disappointed by the government's decision to block all Google services, I usually use Google to find documents for research, so a block on Google means cutting all professionals in China off from the rest of the world.

His post was soon deleted and is now only available on FreeWeibo.com

One professor, Zhan Jiang, says the block has affected his ability to download teaching resources. He said he feared it might continue until tensions between the U.S. and China over cyber security have been solved.

But it isn't simply a problem for academics, as Weibo user “Wang Ran” explained:

屏蔽google, 被伤害的首先是中国人的利益。

The block on Google first and foremost affects Chinese people's interests.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.