The Chinese government has restricted the popular messaging service all around the country in anticipation of the communist party congress.
The Chinese government has blocked the popular messaging service, WhatsApp, as the country’s Communist Party Congress commenced last week Wednesday. Other popular messaging services, most notably WeChat have also been disrupted.
Several China-based users confirmed the blocking and restricted access. According to China-based users, they are unable to send or receive messages via the messaging giant, WhatsApp. In addition, the other popular messaging service, WeChat, has experienced several disruptions which makes it impossible for users to change their profile picture.
WeChat is owned by a Chinese internet provider, Tencent, and has over 963 million regular users.
Users recently received an error message via WeChat stating that system maintenance issues will prevent users from changing profile pictures, changing their alias, or changing the personal description line. According to the error message, these function will resume normal functioning after the end of October.
WhatsApp has been blocked entirely, but experience sporadic, yet limited functioning over the last few weeks.
In addition to blocking and restricting messaging services, several users have also noted that their Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have experienced disrupted connections. VPNs are commonly used in China, in an attempt to escape the Chinese government’s extreme censorship, often referred to as the Great Firewall.
As of late, the Chinese government has made no secret of their stance against VPNs. Newly introduced regulations forced Apple to remove several popular VPN services from their App Store, in order to remain compliant with Chinese regulations. In addition, the Chinese government has issued an official order to three major Chinese internet providers, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, to block all access to VPNs.
The bold move has essentially strengthened the government’s grip on online activity. Something which is well worth noting, considering that China is the world’s second-largest economy.
Users have reported that they have experienced problems with a particular VPN, Astrill. While there is no direct media contact address on the VPNs site, a spokesperson confirmed that the VPN service is not aware of any problems currently in terms of being blocked in China.
Several experts have speculated that the Chinese government’s latest crackdown in controlling communication could be due to the China Communist Party Congress, which commenced last week. The event happens once every five years, in order to choose a new party leader. This year, current President Xi Jinping is expected to reaffirm his position.