After a long history of censoring websites and blocking content for its large user base, China is again cracking down on VPNs. The New York Times recently reported that a large number of VPN users in some parts of the country had their mobile service cut out entirely.
One user spoke out about the issue, explaining the notice that they received: “due to police notice, we will shut down your cell phone number within the next two hours by the law. If you have any questions, please consult the cyber police affiliated with the police station in your vicinity as soon as possible.”
This outage occurred in XinJiang–a province in the northwest of China. A large number of users told the Times that their telecom operator had cut off their service–instructing them to contact the police in order to reconnect their accounts and services. One disgruntled user was informed by the police that he wouldn’t have access to communications for over three days.
As it turns out, the reason behind these communication blockades was based on users using VPN services to access content behind the great firewall or alternative messaging apps providing encryption that are deemed illegal in China.
XinJiang has been a hotspot for internet censorship in the past, as riots in Uighur emerged in 2009 as the region lost access to the Internet for over six months. This time it’s not entirely clear how many have lost access to communications–although the Times reports queues of over 20 people trying to reconnect at only one police station.
The campaign for censorship in China is led by Lu Wei, China’s internet surveillance czar. Wei has been scraping the internet seeking to control user activity and force users and outside tech companies alike to respect national sovereignty.
The great firewall prevents a vast majority of Chinese citizens from accessing a lot of favorite sites like Facebook, or even Google. The firewall is one of the most advanced surveillance and censorship tools anywhere–but even the billion dollar behemoth has blind spots.
VPNs like TorGuard make it increasingly difficult for the Chinese government to censor users when tools like Stealth Proxy and Stealth VPN work together to hide the fact that a VPN is being used. As censorship in China continues to rise–XinJiang may serve as a warning that this region might be a test subject on how the rest of the Chinese region may play out.
Fortunately, TorGuard VPN understands this pressing need to circumvent Chinese censorship. TorGuard’s VPN tools are made specifically for users in censored countries that utilize deep packet inspection techniques. Check out TorGuard Stealth VPN and TorGuard Stealth Proxy for the best China VPN solution.