CHINESE netizens’ online activities have been severely curtailed for the next week or so, thanks to the national “liang hui”, or the annual rubber stamp parliament session.
Many internet users in China have been complaining of fluctuating connectivity through their VPN (virtual private network) services since the session kicked off on Saturday.
VPNs under attack in China. Tried using global Internet without VPN, and it's impossible. So many websites blocked now. Virtual gulag.
— Edward Wong (@comradewong) March 7, 2016
VPN is down in China this week because of a government conference im slowly withering away from boredom during my commute to work
— molloween 💀 (@moIIay) March 5, 2016
Paid VPN service provider Astrill also issued a brief statement to its Twitter account, warning users of limited access:
This is likely due to the fact that the meeting, which is the country’s largest political gathering of the year, will see many politically-sensitive discussions taking place, thus the heightened censorship.
The gathering of nearly 3,000 delegates in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People is expected to end on March 16.
China-based netizens have been heavily-reliant on VPN services and proxies in order to scale what is widely-known as “the Great Firewall of China”.
Known for its heavy-handed censorship tactics, the Chinese government has blocked access to many foreign websites and social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, though that has not prevented users from finding ways to circumvent the blocks.
Last year, however, it began an onslaught on VPN services as well – its updated firewall imposed stricter restrictions, causing problems with the providers.