Google says multiple services blocked in China

Traffic to Google's services in China dropped sharply beginning Friday evening, just as the country's ruling party was convening to pick new leaders.

SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc said several of its online services have been blocked in China.

Traffic to Google's services in China dropped sharply beginning Friday evening there, according to an online "Transparency Report" website operated by Google, which provides updates about access to its services in different parts of the world.

Among the sites affected were Google's search engine and its Gmail web email product.

The disruptions come as China's once-in-a-decade meeting to appoint new leadership gets underway.

A Google spokeswoman said the company did not know why the disruption was happening. Google said in a statement that it had "checked and there's nothing wrong on our end." That raised the possibility that China's Communist government decided to block Google's services at a politically sensitive time. Restricting access to Google's search engine might make it more difficult for people in China to find information about the candidates vying to steer the ruling party during the next decide.

 Another search engine called Baidu is more widely used in China, but its results exclude content that the country's government deems objectionable.

 Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, decided to stop censoring its search results in China in 2010. To avoid breaking the country's laws, Google moved the computers for its Chinese search engine from the country's mainland to Hong Kong, where the same censorship requirements aren't imposed.

Since Google took its stand against censorship, its search engine and other services have been periodically unavailable.