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BEIJING -- Just how angry is China at Google? Internet users behind the government's Great Firewall may have just found out: All searches on Google appeared to be blocked starting late Tuesday afternoon, the latest indication that tensions between the Internet giant and the Chinese government have mounted since Google shut down its mainland search engine earlier this month.
Google has said that a problem that meant that Chinese users of its service were unable to access search results on 30 March was due to a technical error.
Many reports had speculated that the block may have been put in place by the Chinese government.
A spokesperson for the firm said the "lots of users" had been unable to access the Hong Kong site today.
"This blockage seems to have been triggered by a change on Google's part," the spokesperson said.
Google’s search engine was inaccessible in much of China late Tuesday. The exact cause of the disruption was not fully clear, but it led to speculation that the site was being blocked by the country’s Internet censors.
Google itself added to the confusion, first saying that the problem was the result of a change it made to the string of characters it sends along with search requests, which may run afoul of China’s powerful Internet filter.
Later in the day, Google said that it had actually made that change a week ago, so the disruption must have been caused by changes on China’s end. It also said that by early Wednesday morning its service appeared to have been restored.