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Google has accused the Chinese government of interfering with its popular Gmail email system. The move follows extensive attempts by the Chinese authorities to crack down on the "jasmine revolution" – an online dissident movement inspired by events in the Middle East.
According to the search giant, Chinese customers and advertisers have increasingly been complaining about their Gmail service in the past month. Attempts by users to send messages, mark messages as unread and use other services have generated problems for Gmail customers.
In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan, Google set up an application to help people find relatives and friends lost in the disaster. This service too seems to have been compromised.
"Relating to Google there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail," said a Google spokesman. China's embassy in Washington was not immediately available for comment.
China's foreign ministry has rejected claims by Google that Beijing is disrupting access to its e-mail service in the country.
"This is an unacceptable accusation," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news conference on Tuesday.