An employee walks past the logo of Google in front of its former headquarters, in Beijing June 2, 2011 / GOOGLE/EXPERT/ REUTERS/Jason Lee

Service has been disrupted since summer, but Gmail went fully offline on Friday

Google is to blame for the blocking of Gmail in China, according to a paper close to the Chinese government.

The service went offline on Friday, after months of disruptions stretching back to the 25 anniversary of the government’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Experts have said that the site was likely a victim of the Great Firewall, which keeps many sites from being accessed by internet users in China.

“China welcomes the company to do business on the prerequisite that it obeys Chinese law; however, Google values more its reluctance to be restricted by Chinese law, resulting in conflict,” the editorial, written in the Global Times, wrote.

It praised internet regulators’ engagement with Google in opening the Chinese market to the company, and made no explicit comment on whether China had blocked Google or not.

“The problems with Gmail access this time may be caused by the China side, by Google itself or a combination of the two,” the paper wrote.

It said that China blocking Gmail was unlikely to happen “simply over security concerns”, and that since Gmail was a technically complex system “there may be some puzzling reasons behind the incident”.

It urged readers to have faith that China runs its internet policy in line with “the country’s fundamental interests”.

A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said at a press conference yesterday that she wasn’t aware of the country blocking Gmail.