Google investigates blocking complaints
Internet giant Google is investigating complaints that mainland Web users have been unable to use its search engine, but said it was too early to say if the service has been blocked.
Google China public relations manager Cui Jin confirmed yesterday that the company has received complaints that the service was not accessible on the mainland.
Internet users in main cities on the mainland have circulated messages saying they could not log on to Google.com, although the censored Chinese version - Google.cn - was accessible.
The denial of access to the uncensored version was initially linked to Sunday's 17th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown - a sensitive date which often prompts authorities to tighten control over the media, such as censorship of the internet.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders watchdog issued a statement last night condemning the 'unprecedented level of internet filtering in China, which means Google.com can no longer be accessed in most provinces'.
The group also accused Google of bowing to pressure for online censorship on the mainland.
'It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January,' it said. 'Google has definitely joined the club of western companies that comply with online censorship in China.'
In April, Google's chairman and chief executive, Eric Schmidt, defended the company's decision to censor content provided through Google.cn.
'We must comply with the local law,' Mr Schmidt said in Beijing. 'We believe that the decision to follow local law in China was absolutely the right one.'
American internet companies have been criticised by politicians and free-speech advocates for agreeing to central government demands to filter content seen by Beijing as politically sensitive, such as references to Tibet , Taiwan and the Tiananmen crackdown.