In a Chinese government directive that is sure to leave foreigners across the country spooked, China has announced a lengthy crackdown on what is must essential to all expats — their VPNs.
On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a notice declaring that all cable and VPN services must obtain prior government approval before being used for business activities that go across China’s borders.
The 14-month long nationwide crackdown (starting now and ending on March 31st, 2018) appears directed at small businesses in China who use unauthorized VPN services to get around the Great Firewall and conduct business abroad. These companies will be forced into buying government-approved (and more expensive) VPN services or risk operating outside of the law.
Most large international companies in China have already shelled out for their own authorized VPN, without which normal business activities would be nearly impossible. Last year, even Fan Binxing, the architect of the Great Firewall himself, was forced to use a VPN during a live presentation, much to his embarrassment.
So, while the directive may sound scary, it’s not likely to affect your own personal VPN, used for logging on to Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite porn site.
But it does bring to mind apocalyptical crackdowns against VPNs in the past. You’ll probably remember the most recent one, occurring last March during the National People’s Congress meeting in Beijing, which left expats across the country irritated, confused and lost.
Let’s all just hope for the best.
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