China says it doesn’t block VPNs, despite allegations

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Following a report claiming it was banning personal VPNs, Chinese officials are hitting back with cries of “fake news.”

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Chinese telecommunications carriers were ordered to block access to virtual private networks (VPNs) by February 1 next year.

However, according to The Paper (as translated by The Shanghaiist), China is doing nothing of the kind. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology denied a call to ban personal VPNs. They went so far as to call the Bloomberg piece “false.”

The same source says the only measures the government has so far taken this year is a directive from January intended to cut down on “unauthorized” VPNs used to conduct illegal business.

VPNs are one of the few ways for Chinese internet users to bypass the country’s strict censorship laws. Using one is frequently the only way to access sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and news sites.

While the country’s insistence seems firm, there have been whispers of their strengthening grip on the so-called Great Firewall. For example, GreenVPN shut down earlier this month after saying it had received “a notice from regulatory departments.” Several others are quietly disappearing from app stores.

China denies reports that it is planning to ban personal VPNs by February on The Shanghaiist

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