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jcheng

VPN Issues in Chongqing?

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jcheng

I'm considering moving to Chongqing to teach, but I saw that they are testing a VPN crackdown on users there. I couldn't live without my internet (LOVE YouTube) and I was wondering if anyone there has been actually having any problems with their VPNs or if it's just a bit of scary news that doesn't come true.

Shanghaist Article - English

Chongqing Gov Article - Chinese

 

 

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abcdefg

I can't say anything specifically about this issue in Chongqing, but generally speaking, if YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so on occupy an important place in your life, Mainland China is not a good place to live. The usual VPN workarounds all slow down connection speed, at least that has been my experience after trying several of them. Furthermore, the situation seems to be getting worse instead of better.

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889

I travel around a lot and find a working VPN connection these days as rare as hen's teeth; I don't even try very often anymore.

 

So before you commit yourself to life in the Mainland, use Bing exclusively for a week, and do not cheat. Then decide whether it's for you.

 

It's not possible to overstate the limitation on overseas internet access, and its effect on both Chinese and foreigners. Deciding not to come to China because of these limits would be a very reasonable decision.

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fabiothebest

I use expressvpn and vypervpn without problems (in Chongqing).

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abcdefg

Fabio -- Just curious and wanted to ask, don't you worry that if you publicly and freely post information about VPN's that work well for you today, that might raise their visibility and lead them to be targeted by government monitoring agencies, thus leading to their becoming less reliable and useful to you (and others) later?

 

I was encouraged by China friends to not do that. Were they just blowing smoke and am I now being overly cautious? Have I been taken in by an Urban Myth? (I confess to not being hugely tech savvy, especially as regards internet things.)

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jcheng

Hey guys, thanks for the information! I live in China right now, so I know how hard it is to live behind the Wall. I'm mainly worried about VPNs getting cracked down on and getting cut off from the things I depend on now (social network and Gmail etc)

 

Thanks for the help!

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Balthazar

don't you worry that if you publicly and freely post information about VPN's that work well for you today, that might raise their visibility and lead them to be targeted by government monitoring agencies, thus leading to their becoming less reliable and useful to you (and others) later?

 

I don't think there's any chance the relevant government agencies are unfamiliar with the great majority of VPN-providers, and obviously more well known ones such as expressvpn and vypervpn.

 

One word of caution through: Do not mistake your ability to access blocked pages through VPN and/or proxies to be a sign that you are not being monitored. This SCMP article is almost two years old, and some of the mentioned providers (both expressvpn and vypervpn are mentioned) may not have the same issues anymore (though my unqualified guess would be that they still do), but it's worth reading.

 

Personally, I would be comfortable using a VPN in mainland China to enter my favorite (social) media sites, as I very much doubt anyone is going to go after you for using Facebook or watching Youtube-videos. For political sensitive stuff, though, and definitely if we're talking about communicating with others regarding sensitive issues, I wouldn't take any chances even behind the sometimes illusory protection of a VPN

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jcheng

@Balthazar We know they can monitor VPN traffic, but do you know if they've actually started to crack down on users in places like Chongqing? They did it to mobile VPN users in Xinjiang a while ago, but I'd be interested to know if this is actually getting serious...

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Balthazar

@jcheng I don't know, I'm afraid. From what I've read, the VPN "crackdown" in Xinjiang involved users having their mobile data cut off and then having to contact the local police to have it reactivated (without, as far as I know, fines or other sort of penalties being imposed). If a "crackdown" had spread elsewhere, and especially to a megacity like Chongqing, I assume the word would have spread by now. Also, from what I understand it's not really clear whether the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's "cleaning up" statement actually applies to foreign VPNs, as explained in this Forbes article. But again, I don't really know and I'm not located in China myself.

 

You might want to make a post on Reddit's China-board (for the time being you could even do that after arriving in China, seeing how Reddit, surprisingly, is not blocked) if you want to make sure. There should be no shortage of Chongqing residents hanging out there.

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DavyJonesLocker
On 19/04/2017 at 7:57 PM, jcheng said:

@Balthazar We know they can monitor VPN traffic, but do you know if they've actually started to crack down on users in places like Chongqing? They did it to mobile VPN users in Xinjiang a while ago, but I'd be interested to know if this is actually getting serious.

 

 

Defeats the purpose of the P in VPN 

 

I think people are worrying too much any VPN usage. Is quite common in China and used openly. Much of the class I taught (business) use VPNs Many companies openly use it too in offices to promote services on Facebook, access Google advertising etc.

 

As to the original op question , I'd imagine VPN usage rules are regulations are across china uniformly not region specific

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ChTTay

I would honestly be fine with them just opening a govt run VPN if it was any good. Provide a passport number and youtube away. 

 

All I do on the normal internet is work related or finding “how to” do something. 

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DavyJonesLocker

I think this is the key point, using a vpn won't get you into trouble, what you browser for might! However unless it's criminal, politically insensitive I daresay there is no issue 

 

Maybe they can track websites accessed through a VPN . I really don't know. @imron do have any information on this?

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Balthazar

Your internet provider is able to see exactly which pages you visit, regardless of VPN usage or not.

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889

There are ways in which there may be leaks, but if everything is set up right with your VPN, all your traffic to and from the VPN will be encrypted. Your ISP cannot read it and doesn't know the websites you've visited (again, unless there's a leak along the way).

 

Of course, the VPN you use knows the sites you've visited.

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Balthazar

Yeah, ignore my last post, I have no idea how I managed to forget that the information received by your ISP is also encrypted (provided there are no leaks, as you pointed out). :s

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DavyJonesLocker
11 hours ago, 889 said:

There are ways in which there may be leaks, but if everything is set up right with your VPN, all your traffic to and from the VPN will be encrypted. Your ISP cannot read it and doesn't know the websites you've visited (again, unless there's a leak along the way).

 

Yes agree otherwise a VPN is pointless.

Now whether in China  some snooping software is placed on your PC to access the cache memory and history I don't know. Maybe? 

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imron
On 2/9/2018 at 9:18 AM, Balthazar said:

Your internet provider is able to see exactly which pages you visit, regardless of VPN usage or not.

This is not true.  If you are using a VPN then all the internet provider can see is that you made a connection to a machine on the VPN, and then they see a stream of encrypted traffic between you and that machine.  The VPN provider however *is* able to see all your traffic.

 

There are various ways (deep packet inspection) to detect that a VPN is being used and kill the connection, but getting the contents of the traffic is significantly harder.  It's not that difficult for nation states to do if they are targeting you individually, but it's not happening at the internet provider level.

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