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Beijing snuffs Google.com

Two hour blockage

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Chinese net censors appeared to block Google's worldwide website last night, as that country's government continues to grapple with the company over pornographic links turned up by its search engine.

After 9pm local time, the The Financial Times reports, attempts to access google.com and gmail.com from separate computers in Beijing were unsuccessful, but the sites could still be reached by way of proxy servers. That's typically an indication that government censors are tinkering with the net.

After two hours, the sites were accessible again.

Last week, the Chinese government announced that it had begun blocking certain Chinese-language Google results, complaining that the search engine was linking to pornographic material. According to official news agency Xinhua, Beijing personally reprimanded the head of Google China.

As punishment, the news agency says, the government ordered the company to prevent Google.cn from linking to sites outside the country. Google removed buttons that allowed users to choose whether they wanted to search foreign or domestic sites, but it was still linking to foreign urls, and on Wednesday, Xinhua had another go at the company.

Before Google set up a Chinese subsidiary in 2005 - and agreed to submit to government censorship rules, which include the suppression of government criticism - Beijing frequently blocked Google.com. Since then, complete blockages haven't been as lengthy, but the government has tangled with the search giant over porn links on multiple occasions.

Google has not responded to our request for comment. ®

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