BBC Chinese recently reported, based on a number of media sources, that the Chinese government appears to have become much stricter on domestic Internet access control. The three primary Chinese communications companies have been ordered that, by February 2018, they must ban Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) on their Internet networks. VPN refers to the technology to form an encrypted secure channel to go across the public Internet. This is the primary technology for Chinese netizens to access the free Internet outside of China’s “Great Firewall.” It has been estimated that over 30 percent of the 700 million Chinese Internet users depend on VPN technology to break the government’s firewall to visit banned websites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is technically challenging to fully ban VPN usage. At the same time, it may also impact the international companies that use VPN technology for their secure connections to their headquarters’ networks for legitimate business purposes. The VPN ban will further limit Chinese scientists, researchers, and scholars from their day-to-day research work and their communications with foreigners in the same field. Experts expressed their belief that this recent VPN ban demonstrates the Chinese government’s desperation in its attempt to obtain tight Internet control.
Source: BBC Chinese, July 12, 2017