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VPN market spurred after new restrictions

2014-06-17 08:42 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Google block set to continue

Net users in the Chinese mainland are experiencing one of the longest and strictest blocks on Google and associated websites, with analysts predicting that it may continue amid tensions between the US and China over cyber security.

According to Google's own data, traffic from the Chinese mainland has slowed considerably since May 30, Reuters reported.

One of the founders of censorship watchdog GreatFire.org, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times Monday via e-mail that the block on all Google services is the first time this year and is the longest such block in the history of the Chinese mainland 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," he said.

He added that blocking an academically orientated product like Google Scholar is harmful to the development of science and technology in China.

Chinese tech blogger William Long told the Global Times Monday that the block would not affect Google's market share, as most users would use a type of virtual private network (VPN) to access the blocked sites, and would not shift to a domestic search engine such as Baidu. This is because people like to stick to websites they usually use.

The block on Google has spurred the VPN market in China. An anonymous Chongqing-based VPN retailer said he is dealing with more purchasing inquiries and more deals have been closed in the past week. Such a VPN can cost 98 yuan ($15.7) monthly for a single user.

Google pulled out from the Chinese mainland and moved its servers to Hong Kong in 2010 after it refused to comply with China's regulations to filter search terms. Users cannot access google.com.hk either.

"The block may not be permanent and can be expected to ease along with improved Sino-US relationships," Long said.

A Google spokesperson told the Global Times via e-mail on Monday that the company "has checked extensively and there is nothing wrong on our end."

Today, 97 percent of Internet traffic in the Chinese mainland goes to in-country sites, but 3 percent goes to foreign sites. Google remains the most-visited non-Chinese property, according to GreatFire.org, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"This is more of a business problem rather than a political issue," a local expert in cyber security, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Monday. "As a company, Google should act in line with the regular management imposed by local government where it operates. But it left on its own several years ago. Now it just has to face the situation when it can no longer negotiate with authorities or local operators when problems occur," he said.

It is irresponsible for Google to shift its responsibility to its users, "who are furious over the situation," the expert added.

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