In China, there is a growing problem of online communication, with the Chinese restrictive government policies on one side, and private networks trying to defeat them, on the other side. Last year, the government started banning even more websites and phone apps, considering that the classic Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Google online services have been inaccessible for a long time already.
The new no-nos are Line and KakaoTalk, two foreign messaging apps, banned last July. Next, it was Instagram, which was interdicted right in the middle of the last September’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. If you lived in China, you would have woken up one morning, casually opened your Instagram, and see that the feed would not refresh anymore. In the same manner, phone default mail apps stopped working around the same time.
Even though the Chinese government is supporting the connectivity era, its actions say completely the opposite. Online censorship has the sole task of restricting the things people would see or read online, blocking the very communication they praise.
In their efforts of surpassing such inconveniences, some Chinese residents use mainly virtual private networks (VPNs) for accessing blocked websites and download banned apps. What these VPNs do, is connecting you through foreign servers to whatever websites or apps you want to use, all for a certain monthly fee. This way, the Chinese censorship is bypassed, because it cannot reach servers from outside of China.
The VPN business is referred to as “fan qiang” or “climbing over the wall”, alluding to bypassing the so-called censorship Great Firewall, which is cheekly named after the famous Great Wall of China.
However, the Chinese authorities are starting to stamp on the VPN services with threats of banning, as users have already reported that some of them already fail to connect Chinese in-landers. An official responding on behalf of the Industry and Information Technology Ministry (MIIT) reports that interrupting online services which are against the Chinese cyber law is essential for how Chinese Internet will shape in the future. Wen Ku, MIIT director, stated that the quick development of the Internet worldwide requests new measures of security in the online realm. His statement urged foreign Internet providers who still activate in China to conform to the laws of the country if they want to avoid termination.
Two of the most influent VPN providers, StrongVPN and Astrill have vowed to continue to fight against the ever-reaching Great Firewall. StrongVPN’s website released a notice showing the determination of the private network to find new solutions for getting certain servers up and running on China’s territory. Also, they pledged to protect its users and customers from internet censorship, offered them personal privacy online and promised to fight for Internet freedom in China.
Image Source: Digital Trends