The Great Firewall of China swung shut on Google this Friday as the Communist Party prepares to anoint its new leader, with search, Gmail, and other subdomains run by Google completely dead.
The move comes as the ruling elite in China are gathered at the 18th National Congress in Beijing to
anoint elect the new glorious leader Xi Jinping as president of the Middle Kingdom, with Li Keqiang expected to be named as the new premier.
Internet speeds across the country were well below normal levels on Friday, and it seems likely that the move to shut down Google is intended to stifle any protests or debate on the topic, rather than a problem such as the one that took down the Chocolate Factory earlier this week.
"We've checked and there's nothing wrong on our end," a Google spokesperson told El Reg.
Google's own Transparency Report, which monitors the state of the internet in countries around the world, reports a sharp drop-off in Google's traffic beginning at midnight on Friday. The company originally posted a warning that the traffic drop needed to be verified, but has not confirmed that the lock-down is complete.
The move comes as the Chinese government has been taking extraordinary efforts to make sure that the handover of power goes smoothly. According to The New York Times, these steps range from a general slowdown in internet access across the country, the removal of books on Chinese politics from bookshops, and even the banning of balloons, which could apparently be used to display anti-government messages. ®