Google Blames Glitch for China Blockage Report

Talk about a Chinese fire drill.

Google (GOOG) caused a stir Thursday night by saying that Chinese access to its search engine had been "fully blocked" -- only to back down hours later and say that its systems had likely overestimated the extent of a minor outage.

Users can access Google services "normally" as of 8 a.m. Friday morning, Beijing time, the company said.

After Google's Mainland China dashboard was updated to indicate that the company's search, advertising and mobile functions had been blocked, it appeared that Google's months-long conflict with China's Internet censors had taken a dramatic turn.

Just three weeks ago, Google and the Chinese government appeared to reach a shaky truce. Was the Chinese government finally dropping the boom on the search giant?

It appears not.

"Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it's possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage," Google spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker said in an email. "That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage. It appears now that users in China are accessing our properties normally."

Hazelbaker added that "the dashboard is not a real time tool." Had the blockage been an official action, it would have been the most severe crackdown since Google stopped complying with China's censorship rules in March.

Three weeks ago the government renewed the company's Internet business license after Google placed a landing page on through which users could access its uncensored Hong Kong-based page.