We are not sure if this is the new normal, but it is definitely not a very welcome development for many people in mainland China, especially the expatriates.
The popular instant messaging system WhatsApp is down again for the third time in three months. No text, picture or video could be sent or received in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Some netizens said the outage felt like it’s the end of the world while others ridiculed Beijing for launching another “Cultural Revolution” that may soon catch up with North Korea.
With the exception of the 1.4 billion Chinese who are barred from the popular social networks, only a few people on the planet can actually withstand a day without Facebook or Google.
But what makes things worse is that China, which has arguably the world’s largest censorship system, is also blocking access to virtual private networks.
In a move to tighten its grip on the internet, the central authorities reportedly told its three largest telecommunication carriers to completely block access to these services by early next year.
Knowing Beijing’s determination to clamp down on “illegal” online content, Apple has started pulling VPN apps from its China App Store. Amazon has followed suit, with its local partner Beijing Sinnet Technology warning local customers against using any software that would allow people to circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
Now there seems no way to get around the system, which has blocked people accessing foreign websites and sensitive information that may threaten stability ahead of the 19th national congress of the Communist Party of China, where the composition of the next batch of the country’s top leaders will be announced.
Some people are seeing a pattern in the occurrence of WhatsApp outages. The first one came on July 17, followed by another on Aug. 18, and the latest came on Sept. 19. The next one will come on Oct. 20?
Well, that’s rather unlikely because the twice-a-decade party plenum will open two days before that.
Many pray that time would move faster because staying in China without VPN and WhatsApp is like torture: it would be very, very slow. Can you still recall those years when we didn’t have Google and Facebook?
– Contact us at [email protected]