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Over the years I've testified repeatedly about the virtues of a "virtual private network" VPN from Witopia.net as a way around China's Great Firewall. Last week I mentioned that Witopia, which has become very popular among foreigners in China, seems to have been "singled out" by the Chinese government for interference and blockage.

Bill Bullock, of Witopia, says this isn't true. For the record, his reply:

It isn't accurate to characterize that the Chinese government is singling us out or imply we are "outed to the authorities." We do business all over the world and it's the "PPTP VPN protocol" (nothing to do with us) that is commonly blocked in China, not WiTopia's PPTP VPN. It's a location to location thing. PPTP might be blocked at a coffee shop in New Jersey, yet work in a hotel in Beijing. We actually have many customers in China that prefer PPTP. But..PPTP being blocked, wherever it may be, has zero to do with us, except for fact we offer a PPTP VPN option to reach our network. I certainly do not wish people to think that we have let them down, because we have not. We are very upfront that PPTP is an entry-level type service and should not be relied upon in a censored country. That's why, since March 2005, we have had our SSL VPL available.

China is well aware of VPNs and we all use the same protocols. The differentiators between VPN providers are support, reliability, number of locations, price, if you trust them with your data, etc...but if our PPTP is blocked, everyone's will. Just wanted to clear that up before folks got wrong idea.

Now you know.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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