It’s official. Gmail in China the last week or so has become seriously erratic. I know this because just today I have recieved three emails from China telling me so. One came from someone in Shanghai, one from Beijing and one came from my co-blogger, Steve Dickinson, who is usually in Qingdao but is right now in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Shanghai person was telling me of his Gmail problems as an aside to an email “conversation” we were having. The Beijing person (a client) was telling me because I had written regarding a confirmation of changes to an agreement on which I had been working. He said about 90% of his emails were leaving China, but his first response to me apparently had not. Steve and I typically send 10-20 emails back and forth a day and so it usally takes us a day or two to realize that not all have been answered. Around 10% of the emails Steve sent me from Qingdao over the last few days never got through.
All three of these people have company email domains/accounts, yet all three choose to run those through Gmail because it has historically been the most reliable email in China. No more.
Steve’s comments on this are as follows:
These most recent problems with Gmail in China make the idea of using the Cloud in China quite impractical. You never know when you might be unable to get to the site you need. For example, Google Aps is frequently inaccessible, so Google Docs is essentially unusable in China. The concern I raise is not the security of the cloud. My issue is ACCESS to the cloud. It can be blocked at any time in China for any reason. This means cloud computing in China is just not practical.
China’s new Five Year Plan features two whole sections on social control. The folks in Beijing are quite serious about this. As the NY Times says, they are also quite confident that 1) they have the technical ability to pull it off and 2) they will suffer few negative effects if they kill the internet as we know it. They have more important concerns than the internet.
What do you think?