• Chinese people use VPNs to access Facebook in China.

Chinese people use VPNs to access Facebook in China. (Photo : Getty Images)

China continues its intensified efforts on tightening its strong grip on the Internet. The country is said to now officially outlaw unauthorized Internet connections as well as Virtual Private Networks, which give users the ability to bypass its "Great Firewall."

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently announced a notice which requires all special connections through Internet data centers, content delivery networks, Internet data centers and virtual private networks, to secure prior government approval.

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Operators that fall on the said field will only have until the end of March to commit in writing their proof of abiding by the new regulations. They will also need to agree to be tested to ensure full compliance before the year's end.

A shutdown notice of unregulated operations from next year will be placed for operators not complying with the new regulation.

"The move helps push China closer to its vision of Internet sovereignty, or a giant Chinese intranet. But it will also inflict collateral damage, including isolating itself from the global Internet," said Charlie Smith, the co-founder of Greatfire.org and FreeWeibo.Com.

Smith's websites estimate that China has already blocked access to about 172 of the top 1,000 websites of the world, which include Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Qiao, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said: “It mainly serves as a policy initiative, which works to intimidate or send a warning to the sector’s businesses. But such bans in the long run may not work as information flows on the Internet are simply too massive to control as a whole.”

Quiao added: "As countermeasures, some domestic businesses may be forced to operate from outside of China, or Chinese netizens may end up signing up for international VPN services in order to access sites blocked by China."

Golden Frog, one of the three leading international VPN providers in China operating outside the country, is expected to benefit from the new regulations.

“They’re just attracting attention and making people more aware of what is going on, and creating more of a market for VPN services,” said company Vice President Elizabeth Kintzele.

Kintzele said that Golden Frog vows to recover quickly on the new blocking measures against its VPN services to ensure uncensored access to the Internet for its customers in China.