China has made it increasingly difficult to use Google services, including Gmail, this year. Now Gmail users are blocked from a workaround that allowed them to access their emails through third-party services.
Previously, people could still download messages through apps like Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook, which use POP, SMAP, and IMAP. Now it appears that these servers have also have been blocked by China’s Great Firewall. This means users in China will only be able to access Gmail through a VPN service.
Google’s own Transparency Report shows a dramatic drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China that started on Friday. A Google spokesperson for Asia said “we’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end.”
While Google has been subject to censorship since launching Google.cn in 2006, China has recently imposed even stricter limitations on its services. In June, before the 25th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre, China blocked several Google sites, including Google+, Gchat, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive.