The Chinese government has done it again:
Recent media reports are saying that some people in China are facing significant problems in using WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is an instant messaging service and provides users with the ability to communicate with other WhatsApp users for free.
Of course, the real problem is not that some WhatsApp users in China can’t connect to WhatsApp.
The real problem is:
China has banned WhatsApp.
What many had feared before has become a sad reality.
This is the latest incidence in a series of Chinese government internet service clampdown.
Some of the affected WhatsApp users told reporters that WhatsApp had lost all its standard features.
In other words, these WhatsApp users could not send any photos.
They also could not receive anything from their contacts.
Who Owns WhatsApp?
Facebook bought WhatsApp, in what now feels like, ages ago.
Some of the users said that they managed to get WhatsApp back online with the help of a virtual private network.
In other words, a VPN service.
People in China have long used VPN services in order to bypass Chinese government’s internet censorship program.
This Chinese government program basically blocks specific websites for the people living in China.
Moreover, the Chinese government has shown a specific trend when it comes to blocking online websites and other services:
It blocks services which it deems as a threat to the political views of the ruling Communist Party in China.
That is the reason why services such as YouTube also don’t work in China.
Recently, the Chinese government also added some other online services to the list of banned websites.
The most of these banned websites included names such as,
- Lots of news sites (mostly foreign newspapers).
How Does The Chinese Government Block Applications Like WhatsApp?
It is simple.
They reroute the internet or network traffic, that is coming from China, to someplace else.
Most of the time, the redirected page shows people in China a message along the lines of:
“You can’t visit this page because of …….”
As mentioned before, right now, WhatsApp users in China can’t access the WhatsApp service.
The only few users who have managed to do so are the ones who are using a VPN service.
So if you are a Chinese citizen or simply live in China and want to access WhatsApp then you can’t.
Unless of course, you have a VPN service subscription.
Some Field Tests
South China Morning Post conducted a test a couple of days ago in which two users tried to connect to WhatsApp.
These two users had mainland Chinese cell phone numbers.
They couldn’t send or receive pictures or videos to each other by using WhatsApp services.
Thus, confirming the real news:
China has blocked WhatsApp all over the country.
But South China Morning Post test users showcased slightly more patience and determination than the average folk.
They gave the test another go.
This time though they changed something.
One of the two users, tried to send a photo and a video file to a user with an overseas number.
And the user failed.
Here is the twist though:
When the same overseas number tried to shoot/send a video and a photo the user with mainland China number, WhatsApp worked.
IN other words, the user in mainland China received the text from an overseas number without any problems.
But all’s not well even though the two users managed to make WhatsApp work.
Why do we say that?
Because even the user received the photo from the overseas number, WhatsApp only showed a loading thumbnail.
VPN Comes To The Rescue Again
As mentioned before, the two users faced no problems in receiving and sending photos and text messages via WhatsApp when they connected their cell phone connections to a VPN service.
In other words, the use of a VPN service normalized all available services.
We have already mentioned the fact that the Chinese government is on a mission.
That mission is to kill off dissenting views in the country.
Of course, China isn’t the only country in the world who is carrying out such operations.
Plenty of Western countries do the same but they do so under “civilized” labels.
Coming back to the point though:
The Chinese government has this ongoing campaign where it picks off targets in the online world.
It then moves in to clean up the mess it believes foreign online services try to cause.
Moreover, even VPN service providers aren’t safe in China.
The Chinese government has shut down many VPN service providers as well.
In short, if you are a VPN service in China than you are in trouble.
It is better to move to a country that isn’t this strict on VPN providers.
On a side note, VPN service providers should also stay away from countries such as the UK and the US.
More On The Chinese Government
Before we move forward, we would just like to mention here that it is entirely possible that the Chinese government is carrying out such acts in order to protect national interests.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
Every other country in the world is engaging with other countries on the basis of one principle:
Safeguard one’s own national interests.
In other words, the Chinese government is not as evil as some of the media makes it out to be.
The Chinese government is just trying to make sure that there is no major uprising against the ruling Communist Party.
And if that means that the government has to ban some online services, then there is nothing wrong with that according to the Chinese government’s actions.
Of course, some people in China may legitimately need WhatsApp to work.
For those people, it is absolutely vital that they have access to a working WhatsApp.
But since the Chinese government has blocked WhatsApp, the people of China don’t have that option anymore.
Moreover, the Chinese government has also shut down video content sites along with celebrity online gossip accounts.
We don’t know about you but we think that the Chinese government may have done something good although inadvertently by shutting down celebrity gossip accounts which do nothing but waste people’s time.
WhatsApp Stands Alone. Almost
China has banned WhatsApp now.
At least officially that is the case.
Users are free to use VPN service providers in order to circumvent the restrictions in their respective regions.
Regardless, no one can deny the fact that WhatsApp is just the latest foreign messaging app that China has banned in the last couple of years.
Of course, the word “China” here means mainland China.
As far as mainland China goes, the messaging service WhatsApp isn’t as popular as it is in, say, the United States of America or the UK.
In mainland China, people prefer to use local online messaging services such as WeChat.
Chinese users who are overly concerned about privacy still use WhatsApp though.
And perhaps they should.
Besides, WhatsApp is one of the few messaging apps out there that uses end-to-end encryption.
While We Are At It, Who Owns WeChat?
Tencent owns WeChat.
What is Tencent then?
Tencent is a tech giant based in China just like Google is a tech giant that is based in the USA.
Of course, Tencent is nowhere near as big as Google but there is no telling how long it will take to get there and possibly overtake Google as the biggest tech company in the world.
The Big Problem With WeChat
Some reports say that WeChat has censored user messages that the service deemed as politically sensitive in the past.
Of course, you can rest assured that the Chinese government must have directed the online service to do so.
Regardless, WeChat, reportedly, has censored user messages on more occasions than one in the past.
The worse part, according to media reports, is that WeChat did not notify the service’s users of the fact that the service censored some messages.
This is what Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based company, said in its report.
Anonymous Entities Speak Up
The Post reported that it had received confidential information from a source that did not agree to The Post naming it in the news piece.
The only thing about the source that The Post has published is that the source is actually a member of a welfare group, a non-governmental one, which is based in Shenzhen.
This source told The Post that he had tried and failed consistently to use WhatsApp since many hours.
He also notified The Post that all other apps on his smartphone worked fine.
Those apps included WeChat.
The source told The Post that he used WhatsApp on a regular basis in order to communicate for work purposes.
He said that WhatsApp encrypted its messages and that helped his work obligations.
He told The Post that WeChat did not provide as much security and safety as WhatsApp.
Finally, the source said, he did not talk to any of his colleagues at the office.
And because of that, he faced some confusion about what to do.
Any Responses From Facebook Or WhatsApp?
Not yet at least.
When CNBC asked both the company’s for a comment, they did not respond to the requests.
Perhaps, this isn’t a surprise at all.
Afterall, China has also banned other photo-sharing and social networking sites.
The list includes Facebook (the original social networking website) and Instagram, its photo-sharing online service.
The Chinese government has blocked both online services in mainland China.
Taking a look at some of the other foreign messaging and chat application that the Chinese government has banned in the past couple of years, the list looks like this,