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China Further Tightens Grip on the Internet

An Internet cafe in China.

Chinese officials are blocking the functioning of a number of the virtual private networks its citizens use to circumvent that nation's online censorship.

Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

Chinese officials this week took action to block the functioning of several virtual private networks (VPNs) its citizens use to circumvent China's online censorship apparatus.

Officials have long tolerated VPNs, which are used by a broad spectrum of Chinese citizens, ranging from business people to academics and scientists to artists. However, the Chinese government has been stepping up its online censorship activities in recent years as part of a push for what it calls "cyber sovereignty," which is the idea the government has the right to block online content it objects to.

The cyber sovereignty campaign has seen the degradation or outright blocking of numerous services Chinese citizens use to communicate with the rest of the world. Chinese scientists and academics are particularly incensed about the difficulty they now face in getting access to Google Scholar. Many within and without China say the government's efforts to block Internet content are proving a major impediment to the government's stated goal of shifting the country's economy away from its reliance on manufacturing and construction to a more entrepreneurial model. The restrictions make it difficult for foreigners to do business and are causing many bright Chinese entrepreneurs to consider leaving the country.

From The New York Times
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