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China Providers Must Block VPNs By 2018: Government

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China has ordered its telecoms providers to block access to all VPNs by February 2018.

As Bloomberg reports, the country’s government is seeking major upgrades to its infamous Great Firewall, specifically targeting the millions of citizens and businesses using VPNs to bypass censorship.

“VPNs are incredibly important for companies trying to access global services outside of China,” Jake Parker, vice president of the US-China Business Council told the publication.

“In the past, any effort to cut off internal corporate VPNs has been enough to make a company think about closing or reducing operations in China. It’s that big a deal.”

The practice of VPN ‘hopping’ in China is commonplace as authorities identify a rogue service and close it down, only for users to migrate to another.

Part of the ruling Communist party’s drive to maintain “cyber sovereignty,” the move nonetheless represents “tons of opportunities” for domestic companies, Bloomberg Technology’s Peter Elstrom notes.

“US companies and many of the most powerful American Internet companies are not able to operate in the country,” he explained.

The perspective is being repeated in the financial sphere, with China’s central bank pushing the introduction of its national virtual currency while voicing doubts Bitcoin can be a functioning currency.