China is a country that has a very tumultuous relationship with VPNs and VPN providers. The government dislikes VPNs so bad that it went so far as to ban sales of them in the country. Now, in a move that is baffling, China is allowing foreign firms to invest in VPN services on a trial basis. Does this signal a change in attitude or is China simply looking to attract foreign investment?
China Relaxing Restrictions Against Your VPN?
China is known for its strict censorship and control of the Internet within its borders. The country currently blocks more than 135 websites with its Great Firewall of China. Some of the restricted websites and services include Google and Facebook. Many messaging apps are also blocked.
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, have been used by people within China to access restricted services. This led to a crackdown on VPN providers by the Chinese government. It essentially forbid the sale of VPNs within China. This left many people in China without a way to restore their access to censored websites.
Now, the government is saying that it will welcome foreign companies that want to invest in VPN technology in China. The State Council approved this move back in January but the government is only now moving forward in its courtship of foreign investors.
What does this mean for you if you have a VPN and want to use it in China? If you already had VPN service before you arrived in China then you have probably had no issues. For those who do not already have a VPN it may become possible to purchase one again from China in the near future. The specifics of how far China is relaxing its VPN restrictions remains unclear.
According to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce, investment by foreign companies in VPN service is being done to attract foreign telecom operators. It is possible that the censorship of the Internet in China is a deterrent to some companies who want to provide services there. If the measure is understood correctly it is not aimed at the general public but at foreign companies who need VPN service to access blocked websites.
By doing this China could allow a telecom company the ability to bypass its Internet restrictions without letting the general public do the same. It is unknown how the regular citizens of China would react to such a measure. Hong Kong, which is special jurisdiction of China, has recently been rocked with protests regarding democracy. This is not new in China. Every few years it seems there are efforts to advance democracy within the country. All are put down quickly by the government.
The ownership of VPNs by foreign companies will be capped at a 50% interest. It remains to be seen how this new development will affect the use of VPNs in China overall.
China and Internet Control
If you are someone that has visited China in recent years you know just how much control the country exerts over Internet access. The government has always had a vested interest in how much information gets out of the country. They are perhaps even more concerned with this given the negative attention the country has received on the world stage in the past. The demonstrations by students in Tiananmen Square that were crushed by the government made news headlines around the world with video of demonstrators being ran down by Chinese tanks.
It would also be fair to say that the Chinese government sees some Internet services as a threat to its culture. There is also the matter of having control over outside news that is relayed to China. With Internet restrictions the government can try to manage what residents in China can see or hear about the world beyond its borders.
If you plan to visit China anytime soon we strongly suggest that you consider one of the VPN packages provided by VPNAccounts. Our prices are affordable and we have many server locations to choose from. Don’t get locked out by waiting until you arrive in China to buy VPN service. Order today!