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China blocking Google+? Maybe not

Status report showing Google+ being blocked in China

As China celebrates the 90th anniversary of the founding of the country's Communist party, are old habits proving hard to shed? In particular, the regime's decades-old rejection of anything it fears might arm dissenters with a powerful tool to communicate and organize.

Earlier this week, TechCrunch, the Washington Post and RenMedia all ran with the same story to the effect that China was blocking its population from connecting to Google's recently-announced social network, Google+.

They took as their source reports on the website Great Firewall of China as well as ping tests which seemed to suggest that the service was unreachable from within China. But following those and other media reports, Shanghailist bloggers reported that they were able to get through. "The irregularity of speed probably has something to do with the fact that Google+ automatically routes you through an HTTPS secure connection, which has been known to cause problems" according to the piece on Shanghaiist.

So where do things stand now? The Chinese government, which so far hasn't commented officially, may decide that Google+ indeed is beyond the pale. Let's not forget there's no love lost between Google and China. The two have had a contentious history - the most recent flareup centering over accusations of computer hacking traced to China. The government in Beijing responded by accusing Google of playing "political games."

Still, it's a fluid situation and we'll keep watching for new developments. But since it's probably easier to paint a mustache on the Mao painting in Tiananmen Square than to score an invite to Google+ these days, all this may turn out to be a moot point in the end.

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