Staff at China Telecom have denied the news that we reported yesterday that the Chinese ban on VPNs would be implemented this week.
The story cited China Telecoms internal documents showing that the Communist regime had demanded that access to VPNs should be blocked from January 11th. But some sources within China Telecom have now denied this is the case.
The denial has come in a Global Times article published today. It cites anonymous staff and employees from China Telecom who all agreed that they were not aware of the internal notice in question before seeing it in the media.
One unnamed employee from the Hujialou region of Beijing was quoted as saying “It’s strange because we didn’t ever receive such a notice banning access to VPNs.” Another unnamed customer service operative apparently said, “I can firmly confirm with you that no such notice has been received up to now.”
The report also cites the China Telecom Chief Press Officer Song Guixiang as not being aware of the ban, although it does not offer a direct quote to back up this statement.
The questionable reliability of Global Times
It should be noted that the Global Times is the English-language sister newspaper of the People’s Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece. It can, therefore, be safely assumed that their articles are giving the official line of the Communist regime on what is a fairly sensitive issue for them.
That, of course, is very different from being the truth, however. The Communist Party uses publications like the People’s Daily to push out lines based on the information it wants in the public domain rather than what is actually truthful or not.
It is also suspicious that the article fails to offer any named sources to back up the denial it is making. Two unnamed customer service operatives is not a very convincing source, especially given that the original story is quoting a China Telecom document that is physically in their possession.
Both Global Times and China Telecom are state-owned enterprises and it seems surprising that they would be unable to get an official statement to back up their story if it were true. The absence of such a quote or another other authoritative source has to raise questions about the truthfulness of this Global Times story.
The possibility of an immediate ban on VPNs is a serious matter for both individuals and businesses in China, as we discussed in our article on this yesterday. The fact that the Global Times article on such an importantissue is so short and lacking in detail also raises eyebrows.
Ultimately, the truthfulness of the claims that Chinese ISPs will be blocking TCP ports 80, 8080, and 443 by the end of January 11th will only be known on Thursday. It is then that individuals and businesses will find out whether or not their VPN connections can still function or not.
VPN ban still due soon
But even if this block does not come into force this week, a ban on VPNs has already been announced by the start of next month. So, the stay of execution will only be a temporary one.
As we reported, Chinese ISPs including China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom have already received guidance that a VPN ban must be implemented by 1st February 2018. This was reported at the time in Bloomberg and has been subsequently confirmed.
As part of preparations for the ban, many local VPNs have been shut down, individual VPN sellers prosecuted and jailed, and VPN apps removed from various app stores, most notably the Apple China app store.
The best VPN for China 2018
Needless to say, Chinese citizens are far from happy that the Communist regime is attempting to block their only means to access a free and uncensored internet. Many have been stocking up on VPNs while overseas to try and bypass any ban, but it remains to be seen how many of these will work once the ban is in place.
There are currently still a number of the best VPNs which can be accessed in China. Most of them are committed to retaining access to the Chinese market after any ban comes into place and will work to bypass any blocks that affect their service.
It is therefore not such a huge gamble to sign up for one of these services now, despite the likelihood that a ban may be implemented soon. To find out which VPNs work best in China, have a read of our article on the Best VPN for China 2018.