You've undoubtedly heard of the Great Wall of China. But there's also something called the Great Firewall of China, and that one has just become a little bit more impenetrable. For many years, the Chinese government has been very strict in what it does and doesn't want people to see on the Internet. Websites that show articles that are negative about China get blocked, and so do social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and even services like Gmail.
VPN’s to The Rescue
This has made the use of VPN's very popular in China, as they are the only way for people to access the whole Internet without restriction. The Chinese government has been very reluctant in allowing VPN's to exist, making it mandatory for people to register if they make use of a virtual private network (though very few people using a VPN have actually done this, with reason).
VPN Services Sneaking Through The Great Firewall
But now, even VPN's are not allowed anymore. This is all part of an upgrade to China's censorship system, all intended as a way to ‘protect' its citizens from outside influences. As it stands, the newer, bigger firewall of China does still have a few holes. Providers of VPN services in China still have ways through the blockage, even though the new measures do make it harder for people to reach their Facebook account, or to read their Gmail. This is particularly inconvenient for foreigners in China, people on holiday there or on a business trip, who will now have more trouble than ever to stay in touch with what is happening at home and in the world outside of China. If even services like Gmail are prohibited, how are you going to keep in contact?
VPN providers including StrongVPN and Golden Frog are reporting that the list of servers people can use to access the Internet outside the great firewall changes by the day, and sites working one day might be inaccessible the next day. The providers are in talks with Chinese officials to have the blockage lifted, and to give Internet-users in China a little more breathing room, but chances are slim that this will happen anyday soon.
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