Paul Stapleton, associate professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, writes in the South China Morning Post today that… “China must unblock Google Scholar”

… it is curious to note what has happened recently on the mainland [China]. Google Scholar is no longer available there.”

It’s a weak article but at least it’s made me aware that Scholar, as well as the main Google Search, had been blocked in mainland China. Looking back through the surprisingly sparse western news reports, I see that the Chinese national block reportedly began in earnest on 29th May 2014. The New York Times reported in September 2014 “China Clamps Down on Web, Pinching Companies Like Google”

… blocking virtually all access to Google websites [from 29th May 2014 onwards, and … ] the block has largely remained in place ever since. […] Jin Hetian, an archaeologist in Beijing […] said. “When in China, I’m almost never able to access Google Scholar, so I’m left badly informed of the latest findings.”

Back in January 2015 The New York Times reported “China Further Tightens Grip on the Internet”

In recent weeks, a number of Chinese academics have gone online to express their frustrations, particularly over their inability to reach Google Scholar, a search engine that provides links to millions of scholarly papers from around the world. [there is now an energy-sapping] unending scramble to find ways around website blockages… “

An April 2015 Forbes article “How The Great Firewall Prevents China From Becoming A World Education Power” failed to mention Scholar, but the journalist (visiting Shanghai at the time) opened by reminding readers that…

all things Google are all blocked [in China]”

The reason for the ban appears to be ideological. The respected Index on Censorship had an article “Return of the Red Guards: the risks faced by students and teachers criticising the government line in China” in their June 2015 issue, that opened…

Since Xi Jinping came to power nearly three years ago, China has witnessed an intense campaign against anyone who criticises the party. Recently this campaign has moved into universities and sought to muffle both teachers and students alike. […] In January 2015, the Chinese leadership released guidelines that said universities must prioritise ideological loyalty to the party, the teaching of Marxism and Xi Jinping’s ideas. In the days following this announcement, education minister Yuan Guiren announced to a room of leaders from several prominent universities that the use of Western textbooks would be restricted and any that promote “Western values” would be banned. […] “By no means allow teaching materials that disseminate Western values in our classrooms,” Yuan told the gathering. “Never allow statements that attack and slander party leaders and malign socialism to be heard in classrooms.”