tigerVPN and freedom of speech in China


In April, Chinese state media reported that a blogger, Qin Zhihui, was sentenced to three years in jail for stirring up political dissent. The Beijing district court prosecutors claimed that Qin had “impacted society and seriously harmed social order” when he published a number of reports on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website.

China maintains that its recent crackdown on hundreds of bloggers was enacted in the name of public stability and social order, but rights groups have accused the regime of limiting online freedom of speech in order to shield the ruling Communist party from criticism.

Another popular microblogger, Charles Xue, who had drawn 12 million followers on Weibo, was released on bail after apologizing on state television for promoting what the government calls “group licentiousness.”

In recent years, Chinese microblogs have grown in popularity, and are now significant drivers of public opinion. Commentators have drawn attention to such pressing social issues as pollution, censorship, and official corruption.

However, under new guidelines released this past September, internet users in China may be subject to up to three years in prison for posting defamatory messages that reposted 500 times or more. Since the campaign began, many hundreds of bloggers have been arrested.

In China, as well as other countries around the world with authoritarian regimes, a VPN is a solid option for preserving a user’s anonymity, and avoiding punishment from the authorities. Especially in the increasingly harsh limitations on freedom of the the press and freedom of speech in China, a VPN has proven invaluable to political dissidents who need to get the word out without fear of reprisals from the government.

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, works by creating what amounts to an encrypted tunnel between a host’s computer and the VPN provider. Once a user is connected to a VPN, their traffic is completely shielded from anyone who might wish to spy on their activities. Most VPNs work by providing what are known as “nodes” or different places around the world where a user’s signal “pops out” and accesses the internet. At tigerVPN, we offer 52 nodes in 38 countries. For example, users can select New York City as their node, and for all intents and purposes, their internet connection is effectively American.

The only thing a hypothetical Chinese government official might see is that the user is on any encrypted connection. They would have no access to what sites the user visits, or what kind of activities they are conducting.

In China, where authorities have ready access to Internet Service Providers, and where search terms that may be damaging to the Communist Party, such as “Tiananmen Square”  are blocked, this capability has proven quite useful in the effort to circumvent limits on freedom of expression. It’s clear that in the fight against tyranny, VPNs will continue to be a potent weapon. At tigerVPN, we’re happy to help. Check out our full suite of VPN services today.