WHILE its impossible to know just how many people in China use a VPN service to get around the famous Great Firewall, some experts estimate at least 29 percent of 700 million Internet users (roughly 200 million) use one to access blocked content. But China has had enough of these people slipping through the cracks, and have launched a nationwide campaign against unauthorized VPN services.
The campaign, which is to last 14 months, has been dubbed a “clean-up” of China’s Internet connections, and began on Monday.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released a notice on Sunday that declared all special cable and VPN services on the mainland have to obtain government approval, effectively rendering most providers illegal.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) January 23, 2017
The ministry said: “China’s Internet connection service market… has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance.” It added that the campaign was aimed at strengthening “cyberspace information security management”.
Ironically, just last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, China’s President Xi Jinping praised the era of globalization, while taking a quiet jab at U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies.
“We must redouble efforts to develop global connectivity to enable all countries to achieve inter-connected growth and share prosperity… Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room. While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air,” he was quoted by EndGadget as saying.