The whole story is full of twists, turns and more than a little Kabuki theater (yeah, I know Kabuki isn’t Chinese).
Here’s the latest:
The Chinese government apparently slowed access to Google (GOOG) Web sites earlier this week, as the search giant last night backed off earlier statements that access to the site was blocked by changes Google made to the engine’s search parameters.
Google had disclosed early this week some users in China were unable to complete Google searches or had intermittent trouble accessing any of Google’s Chinese-language sites.
That disclosure prompted some immediate speculation that China was blocking access to the sites because of Google’s decision to stop censoring search results in the country.
The speculation abated yesterday afternoon when Google announced that it had accidentally caused the blockage itself.
A spokeswoman told Computerworld then that access to the Chinese site, now run out of Hong Kong, was blocked because its programmers had added a series of letters — gs_rfai — to the Web addresses of Google search pages. The spokeswoman explained that “rfa” is associated with Radio Free Asia, a site that China has long blocked. Therefore, adding them automatically caused Google’s site to be blocked there.
Now, Google says that something in China’s Internet filter, or “great firewall,” caused the site to be blocked.