Google services grind to a halt in China, political transition suspected as the culprit (update)

As eagerly as Google has gone through routing acrobatics to minimize the Chinese government's ability to censor and spy on its its services, it's still at the mercy of the Great Firewall. The company might have just run head-first into the bricks as of Friday. As confirmed by some of our own staff, all of Google's services stopped working in China for at least the better part of a day despite the search firm verifying that everything was in good working order. Officials haven't confirmed that anything was afoot, but it's easy to raise the specter of possible censorship given local political maneuvering. The once-a-decade Communist Party Congress began on Thursday, and the establishment may have wanted to cut off a relatively unfiltered line of communication for dissidents during a transition of power. We're hearing that access may have ameliorated in at least parts of the country, which would be a pleasant surprise -- not that a sudden improvement in service will cheer up those who know they still face a backlog.

Update: As SlashGear notes, Computerworld / IDG has reported that Google's services were up and running in country again after about 12 hours of being inaccessible. Official details on the blocking are still slim as ever (and will likely remain as such) about the happenings, but you can click through the links above for more in the meantime.