China has been outranked by India, Vietnam, and Thailand—and barely even beat Turkey—in a new study comparing worldwide VPN use. Chinese internet users, savvy they may be, are apparently not chomping at the bit to access Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
There are several reasons why China has been outranked. One of the biggest, as TechInAsia points out, is that many Indian internet users can read English, and therefore want to access western news and entertainment websites that are blocked by their country’s censorship regime. In China, although quite a few people would surely read the NYTimes Chinese edition if it were unblocked, the demand pales in comparison.
Furthermore, China’s firewall is really, really good. Evil, yes, but those engineers knew what they were doing. Many VPNs don’t work properly in China, especially free services and mobile VPN apps, which further knocks down the country’s numbers.
Add to this the fact that most VPN software is in English, and that—unless you want to stay in touch with foreigners—most Chinese social networking is actually pretty decent, and you will eventually end up at China’s 22%. An interesting follow-up survey to this one, performed by GlobalWebIndex, would be to analyze expatriate VPN usage in each country, so we could seperate the local, somewhat subversive, population from the business people checking their kid’s Facebook.
[Image via Global Web Index]