Google has backtracked on an initial statement that the blocking of some of its services in China had been the result of its own technical error, leading to renewed speculation that the Chinese authorities are interfering with its web traffic.
It was originally claimed that Google's search services were being deliberately blocked after the firm moved its operation to Hong Kong to avoid censorship in mainland China.
Reports first surfaced this week that China might be attempting to cripple Google's Hong Kong service, but Google then responded by saying the problem was likely to be a technical error.
"The 'gs_rfai' started appearing in the URLs of Google searches globally as part of a search parameter, a string of characters that sends information about the query to Google so we can return the best result," said the firm at the time.
"Because this parameter contained the letters 'rfa' the Great Firewall was associating these searches with Radio Free Asia, a service that has been inaccessible in China for a long time - hence the blockage. We are currently looking at how to resolve this issue."
However, in a new statement, Google said it is now holding China's firewall responsible for the block.
"Having looked into this issue in more detail, it's clear we actually added this parameter a week ago. So whatever happened to block google.com.hk must have been as a result of a change in the great firewall," Google said.
In a further twist, the web giant admitted that its Chinese search traffic has now returned to normal "even though we have not made any changes at our end ".
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