In recent weeks, Internet users in China have complained of increasing difficulty accessing overseas websites, in what many see as part of the ongoing crackdown on free expression. In the Global Times, Fang Binxing, the so-called Father of the Great Firewall, attributes the problem to cost-cutting measures by ISPs:
Fang Binxing, president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, attributed the interruptions to Internet service providers’ economic concerns.
“Service providers have to pay the bill of the international Internet flow for their users. So there is incentive for the companies to discourage users to visit foreign websites,” he said.
This view was echoed by Wei Wuhui, an IT technology and new media expert at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Roughly 20 percent of university students use VPNs to visit websites that are not accessible in the Chinese mainland, such as Facebook and Twitter, with that figure fast increasing, Wei said, adding that too many visits at once to these sites could cause blockages.
Fang said the intermittent access to the foreign sites may also be attributed to limited bandwidth being set aside for international traffic, as it currently stands at only around 1 terabyte, falling short of mounting domestic demand.
Fang Binxing himself has told journalists that he runs no fewer than six VPNs, which allow him to leap over the Great Firewall, in his computers. Read more about Fang Binxing via CDT.