Chinese censors are picking up steam ahead of the 19th Communist Party Congress. Pic: AP.

China blocks VPN services

Pic: AP.

Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — Tech specialists and companies are reporting that China is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook.

The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. Another provider, Astrill, informed its users that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services such as Gmail this year.

The Chinese government blocks thousands of websites to prevent what it deems politically sensitive information from reaching Chinese users. Many foreigners in China as well as millions of Chinese depend on VPNs to connect to servers outside the country and access blocked information.

China-based entrepreneur Richard Robinson said the controls have particularly hurt small- and medium-sized foreign companies.