China has ordered telecommunication firms to block access to individual Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by February 2, 2018. These VPNs provide users with encrypted connections which can block China’s vast censorship system.
But that system is about to encroach even deeper into the lives of Chinese citizens. Without these VPNs, it would be virtually impossible for users to access unfiltered content from websites like Facebook and Twitter. It would essentially close China’s iron fist on the media. The government under President Xi Jinping already has directed traditional media to follow party lines and promote “positive propaganda.” It has also initiated an official government licensing policy for media.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are the state-run telecom companies to receive the government directive, according to a report by Bloomberg.
China Mobile, China Unicom and the Ministry did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from China Telecom denied receiving such a government directive.