There’s a good reason as to why Mainland China top our list of countries with the highest level of Internet censorship. Nowhere in the world is using the Internet as frustrating as in China. The Great Firewall of China isn’t a joke; it is a real issue that troubles every Internet user in the country. There’s nothing anyone can do about it.
People in the free world enjoy unrestricted access to the Internet. But when they travel to China, they face the shock of their lives – no Google or Gmail, or Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram.
That means, taking selfies on the Great Wall of China and posting it on Facebook is not an option, and no bragging to friends on WhatsApp about eating fried insects for lunch. Once you are in China you are blocked from the rest of the world.
Bypassing The Great Firewall
At this point, any sane person would wonder how Chinese people survive. The short answer is VPN. Yes, Chinese netizens regularly take the help of virtual private networks to bypass the Great Firewall.
There is another service that’s insanely popular in China for lack of any other option, and it’s called WeChat. The problem is even though WeChat combines every service imaginable into one, it is always monitored by the government.
That means your name, address phone numbers, contact list, and other personal information like what kind of food you usually eat on weekends, who you usually call at 10 pm every night, and what places you recently booked tickets for are all on the government’s database.
Don’t be surprised because there are CCTV cameras on every street recording where you go and what you do. In China, privacy is nonexistent.
Now, along with websites and applications, VPNs are also banned by the government on a regular basis.
These blocks increase in intensity just before a major event in the country. When there is a major trade show and Internet conference in the country, the government steps up its VPN blocks.
Internet censorship in China
China is famous for a lot of things. One of them is a government that imposes heavy censorship on everything, including the Internet.
The availability and use of the Internet in China have always been slower than the rest of the world. The widespread Internet censorship in the country has made things even worse.
Restricted internet access in China affects not only the citizens but also companies seeking to do business in the country. International companies regularly use VPNs to keep the information transmitted between China and the rest of the world safe.
If China shuts down every VPN, it will make it impossible for international companies to do business in the country. The government randomly blocks websites and applications, making it difficult for businesses to reach their target audience.
Why exactly is Internet censored in China? There are two reasons behind this. The first is to prevent a mass movement against the government. Because the government is dictatorial, it always lives in the fear of the citizens organizing a protest through social media.
Various countries have experienced such mass protests by citizens organized through social media channels. The Chinese government prefers to be on the safe side by blocking Internet access to citizens.
The other reason behind censorship is to force people to use Chinese services. International services like Facebook, Twitter and Gmail are all banned. This leaves people with no other option but to use Chinese services.
This is just another way to prevent any kind of competition and keep only Chinese services in the country.
Not a Happy Bunch of People
Regardless of the reason behind the censorship, Chinese citizens do not love the lack of Internet privacy or restricted Internet access.
That is the reason why virtual private networks have become such a craze in the country. But over the last year or so, the government has blocked most VPNs and keeps up with its efforts to block every existing one.
VPN Use in China
Ever since Chinese citizens found out the usefulness of a virtual private network, the use of VPNs in the country grew by leaps and bounds. With the help of VPN Chinese netizens no longer have to stick to Chinese services only; easily use Google and Facebook and Gmail for communication.
Once the Internet is uncensored with the help of a VPN, people in China also get to know what is happening around the world and their displeasure over the lack of Internet privacy in China grows stronger.
Since 2013, the Xi Jinping government has not only tightened Internet censorship but also started to take down VPN services that operate in the country.
Before any big event of national importance in the country, these blocks grow more aggressive, as found out recently by VPN service providers in China. Ahead of a major trade expo and Internet conference, the government has employed newer and more advanced tactics to block VPNs.
Service providers have their own countermeasures to get past these blocks, but they only work for a few days before the government blocks them again.
Ahead of any Internet conference, China could only be testing new technologies to effectively block virtual private networks. Many believe that once the conference is over, the blocks will decrease in intensity. However, VPN use is not legal in China and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
Where to from Here?
The worst thing is that China doesn’t care what the world thinks about them or what the citizens want. Whenever VPN servers are blocked, users experience severe lag and connectivity issues.
Even though these blocks lower in intensity after some time, the government keeps track of VPN servers and keeps blocking them. Even VPN users and promoters are on the blacklist of the government.
If you travel to China and want to get unrestricted access to the uncensored Internet, it is either impossible or extremely difficult. Even if you subscribe to a VPN service, you have to keep checking if there are available servers to connect to.