For two hours this week, the Great Firewall of China did not apply to Google.
Late on Sunday and into Monday morning, an uncensored version of Google Search was available in China, according to the South China Morning Post. It’s unclear what caused the glitch. Search appears to be the only Google service that went live in the region, though the Washington Post said Instagram was also accessible there.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google has had a rather tumultuous relationship with Chinese officials in recent years. In January 2010, Google said there were attempts to hack into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. At the time, Google pledged to no longer censor search results in China, even if that meant pulling out of the country entirely, and re-routed all Google.cn traffic to the uncensored Google.com.hk.
Unsurprisingly, a Chinese minister warned of “consequences” if Google continued redirecting its results. Finally, the two parties settled on a hybrid solution so that Google could maintain its presence there. In the years since, however, Google services have been blocked, slowed, and otherwise made inaccessible.
In June 2012, Google announced that it would begin displaying warnings to Search users in mainland China when their query was likely to result in an error beyond the search giant’s control. That was quietly turned off a year later, however.